Science

Is Dog Ownership Connected To Better Health?

Is Dog Ownership Connected To Better Health?

The results? Dog owners - especially dog owners who lived alone - had a lower risk of dying from cardiovascular disease.

Scientists managed to establish that on average dog owners live longer than those who have not had Pets for a few months longer.

Though dog owners overall saw these benefits, the effects were strongest among people who lived alone, who were 36% less likely to develop heart disease and 33% less likely to die than people living alone who don't own dogs.

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

While the study stops short of determining a direct "causal effect" between dog ownership and lower heart disease, it indicates that dog owners may have better health because they stay active by walking their pets, even in bad weather.

The researchers examined seven national databases in Sweden, including two that track dog ownership, and focused on people aged 40 to 80. "As a pet owner, I also notice that the people I meet during walks are often other dog owners, especially in bad weather".

The dog is the most popular pet in the United Kingdom, with 24 percent of people owning one. Here's what else they found and details on how they conducted their study. "In warmer climates, they could keep them in the yard and won't have to actively take them for a walk", said Fall.

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They also said owning a dog may protect people from cardiovascular disease by increasing their social contact or wellbeing, or by changing the owner's bacterial microbiome. In households with more people under the same roof, dogs had less of a positive impact, but still lowered deaths from heart disease by 15%, the work reveals.

"And people who get dogs might be different from non-owners in other ways before they choose to get a dog, which could have influenced our results, for example they might already be more interested in physical activity or have a higher level of health".

Fall says the study's results can be generalized to the entire Swedish population, and likely to other European countries with similar living standards and culture regarding dog ownership.

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

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

"Dog owners in particular tend to be a little more extroverted, or outgoing" Kay Joubert, Director Companion Animal Services at PAWS, told The Huffington Post.


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