Dog Ownership Linked to Lower Mortality

Hanging around with this dog could be good for your health

In case you need another reason to snuggle your pup: According to a new study of more than 3.4 million people, owning a dog is linked to a longer life.

Owning a dog slashes the risk of suffering a premature death by a third, new research reveals, according to The Daily Mail.

The study can not explain how dogs have a health-boosting impact, but the company alone may reduce stress and motivate people to live healthier lifestyles.

As a result, they were able to study whether having a registered dog was associated with cardiovascular disease and death in people with no history of the illness, over a 12-year period. In addition, the single adults with dogs were 36 percent less likely to die from cardiovascular disease.

"Other explanations include an increased well-being and social contacts or effects of the dog on the bacterial microbiome in the owner", she said in a university news release.

"The findings of the largest ever investigation of the association between dog-ownership and human health should encourage all of us to add a four-legged friend in our family circle", she said.

"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, a Ph.D. student at Uppsala University and the lead junior author of the study.

Fall believes that while their study provides strong evidence for the health benefits of dogs, their work is not done yet since it does not answer why dogs achieve these results or why specific breeds seem to offer more protection.

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The study authors were also surprised to find that people who owned dogs that were originally bred for hunting-like terriers, retrievers and scent hounds-were the most protected from heart disease and death. We know that dog owners in general have a higher level of physical activity, which could be one explanation to the observed results.

"It is hard to say if there truly is a causal effect".

"Stress relief through companionship has an inherent benefit to people's overall health, so it is not surprising that dog owners display a lower risk of heart disease", said Dr. Satjit Bhusri, a cardiologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.

Instead, dog owners may just be healthier to begin with.

"We have a colder climate so we have indoor dogs where owners take their dogs out for a walk".

While some previous studies have shown similar positive effects for pet ownership generally, others have shown the opposite effect.

Experts in the United States agreed that the findings made sense.

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