New research shows that owning a dog could save your life

Posted November 18, 2017

For people living alone, owning a dog can decrease their risk of death by 33% and their risk of cardiovascular related death by 36%, when compared to single individuals without a pet, according to the study.

The team behind the Swedish study also observed a link between hunting breed ownership and heart health, which was unexpected.

"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", Mwenya Mubanga, an author of the study and a Ph.D. student at the Department of Medical Sciences and the Science for Life Laboratory at the university, said in a statement.

Dr Mike Knapton of the British Heart Foundation, said: "Owning a dog is associated with reduced mortality and risk of having heart disease".

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Swedish researchers have found a positive relationship between dog ownership and a lower risk of death due to cardiovascular diseases or to other causes.

"These kind of epidemiological studies look for associations in large populations but do not provide answers on whether and how dogs could protect from cardiovascular disease". Meta-analyses have confirmed dog owners are more active-especially in poor weather-than non-owners, and the animals can act as social supports, improving an owner's perception of their well-being.

Researchers at Uppsala University reviewed data collected from 2001 to 2012 from seven different national registries, including the Swedish Agricultural Agency's dog owner's register and the Swedish Kennel Club's register, in addition to the Register of the Total Population, which contains information on birth, migration, changes of citizenship, civil status and death on all Swedish citizens and residents. For instance, people who choose to get a dog are generally more active in the first place and of better health.

"However, as many dog owners may agree, the main reason for owning a dog is the sheer joy".

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There are also other factors that still need to be considered, such as the owner's personality and general physical health and activity.

You know how they say "a dog is man's best friend".

The characteristics of people who decide to get a dog could also be influencing the findings.

"We have a colder climate so we have indoor dogs where owners take their dogs out for a walk. More studies should be obtained in the United States", said Bond.

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