Owning a dog could literally be saving your life according to a new study
18 November, 2017, 01:43
Owning a dog could be linked to a decreased risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) in single-person households and lower all-cause mortality in the general population, a 12-year study of Swedish canine owners suggests.
"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". Their overall risk of death dropped 33 percent and their risk of cardiovascular-related death fell by 36 percent compared to single individuals who did not own a pet. They were also 11% less likely to have a heart attack, an effect that is not shown among people who live with others and is nearly certainly attributable to our children's leftover french fries. "It may also be that those who choose to get a dog from the beginning have lower risk of cardiovascular disease, for example, through an active lifestyle".
Another finding was that owners of dogs from breed groups originally bred for hunting were the ones most protected, so dogs in the retriever, terrier, and scent hound families are the ones that may provide the most benefit.
The study looked at previously self-reported data on almost 3.5 million Swedes between the ages of 40 and 80. The study notes that a much smaller Norwegian study of the same subject, undertaken with similar methods, didn't show a link between dog ownership and lower mortality.
No matter the breed, though, Fall and co-authors wrote dogs are repeatedly proven to have a positive health effect on those living with them. A dog forces you into more activity - he needs walks, after all!
"However, as many dog owners may agree, the main reason for owning a dog is the sheer joy".
The researchers examined seven national databases in Sweden, including two that track dog ownership, and focused on people aged 40 to 80. "Other explanations include an increased well-being and social contacts or effects of the dog on the bacterial microbiome in the owner", says Tove Fall, a senior author of the study and associate professor at Uppsala.
While Bond may not prescribe a dog as treatment for a patient, she said that she will not discourage owning or buying one, or expressing the benefits of owning one. (Might not get that one past the institutional review board.) But in the meantime, we'll take this association as further proof that dogs are the best and that's the end of the story.
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