Dog ownership linked to living longer, study finds

18 November, 2017, 00:24 | Author: Lorena Waters
  • Want to live longer? Own a dog			
   by Paul Miles 

A new study by researchers at Uppsala University in Sweden found that bringing a new little furball into your life can improve your heart health, especially if you live alone.

In short, the scientists found that dog owners had a lower risk of death from cardiovascular diseases or many other causes during 12 years of follow-up.

As far as companions in life go (and we're including people in this) dogs are the best. It said owning a dog cuts down the risk of death from cardiovascular disease by 36 per cent for people that live alone.

Multi-person household owners also saw benefits, though to a lesser extent.

People who live alone have been shown previously to be at a higher risk of cardiovascular death.

The researchers stressed that while these types of studies show a relationship between the environmental factor and diseases in a large population, they do not provide answers to if and how dogs actually protect from heart disease and premature death.

The team from Uppsala University in Sweden analysed data from 3.4 million Swedes aged 40 to 80 by combing through a national database of hospital visit records and dog ownership registrations.

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"We can not infer a causal relationship, however, dog ownership is associated with increased physical activity, improved psycho-social wellbeing and socialisation, all of which are associated with reduced CVD mortality- so it is plausible the effect is mediated though these mechanisms".

While the research was carried out in Sweden, Fall does believe it may also apply to other countries, including the USA, since popular breeds and people's attitudes toward dog care are similar.

Owning a dog from breeds originally bred for hunting, such as terriers, retrievers and scent hounds, was associated with the lowest risk of cardiovascular disorder. That would be a tough study to pull off since you would have to take a random set of people, give some of them dogs, and see who died first.

But as it was an observational study it does not prove dogs prevent cardiovascular disease or how it may happen. Other reasons might involve an increased well-being and social contacts or effects of the dog on the bacterial microbiome in the owner.

"Another interesting finding was that owners of different breeds differed clearly as regards to cardiovascular health", she added.

Cardiovascular disease causes more than a quarter (26 per cent) of all deaths in the United Kingdom 160,000 each year. They also probably apply to the United States, she says.

More: Does Sleeping With Your Dog Help or Harm Your Sleep Quality?



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