Health  

Want to live longer? Get a dog

The benefits that come with owning a dog are clear– physical activity, support, companionship — but owning a dog could literally be saving your life

Dog ownership is associated with a reduced risk for cardiovascular disease and death, according to a new Swedish study published Friday in the journal Scientific Reports.

For people living alone, owning a dog can decrease their risk of death by 33 per cent and their risk of cardiovascular related death by 36 per cent, when compared to single individuals without a pet, the study further disclosed. Chances of a heart attack were also found to be 11 per cent lower.

Multi-person household owners also saw benefits, though to a lesser extent. Risk of death among these dog owners fell by 11 per cent and their chances of cardiovascular death were 15 per cent lower. But their risk of a heart attack was not reduced by owning a dog.

“A very interesting finding in our study was that dog ownership was especially prominent as a protective factor in persons living alone, which is a group reported previously to be at higher risk of cardiovascular disease and death than those living in a multi-person household,” said Mwenya Mubanga, an author on the study and PhD student at Uppsala University.

As a single dog owner, an individual is the sole person walking and interacting with their pet as opposed to married couples or households with children, which may contribute to greater protection from cardiovascular disease and death, said the study.

Owners of hunting breeds, including terriers, retrievers, and scent hounds, were most protected from cardiovascular disease and death. However, owning any dog will reduce owner’s risk of death, just to different extents, said Tove Fall, senior author of the study and Associate Professor in Epidemiology at Uppsala University.

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