Want a Longer Leash on Life? Get a Dog

According to the study managed to establish that the dog in the family significantly reduces the risk of premature death by more than 33%, and also prevent the development of diseases of the cardiovascular system by more than 11%. It said owning a dog cuts down the risk of death from cardiovascular disease by 36 per cent for people that live alone. Of the millions of Swedes' whose health records were analyzed, 13% owned canines, and of those, the dog owners between 40 and 80 years old tended to live longer than those in a similar age group who did not own dogs.

"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", Tove Fall, a senior author of the study and a professor at Uppsala University, said in a statement.

"Other explanations include an increased wellbeing and social contacts or effects of the dog on the bacterial microbiome (gut bacteria) in the owner".

Here's to keeping your health on a tight leash: New research suggests that having a dog might boost a single person's life span.

An interesting finding, though purely correlative, was that dogs belonging to breeds originally selected for hunting offered the most protection, the authors reported in Scientific Reports.

"Our observational study can not provide evidence for a causal effect of dog ownership on cardiovascular disease or mortality", they write. "I think that a pet brings a lot of joy and companionship into a house, so if a person has the capacity to take care of it, they certainly should", she says.

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Swedish scientists used national data on health, hospital visits and dog ownership from 2001, the year when registering dogs became mandatory.

The risk of death fell by 11 percent in households with multiple people.

"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". 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.

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".

"Alternatively it could be reverse causality - people who are fitter and more active are more likely to own a dog".

  • Toni Ryan