Want a Longer Life? Get a Dog, Study Says

Phillip Butler
November 18, 2017

Now, the results of this study don't mean that there's a causal relationship between owning a dog and living longer.

People in possession of a pooch were less likely to have cardiovascular disease or die from any cause during the 12 years covered by the study, according to the study published in Scientific Reports.

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

Those in multi-person households had an overall risk of death that was 11 percent lower than non-dog-owners, and a 15 percent lower risk of cardiovascular death.

Owners of hunting breeds, such as retrievers, scent hounds and terriers, were the most protected from cardiovascular disease and death.

A group of academics from Uppsala University in Sweden analyzed the health records of 3.4 million people in that northern European country, where databases contain detailed information on most everyone's hospitalizations, medical history and even whether they own a dog. The reason? It gets you out into the community - and you're more likely to talk to other dog owners.


"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", said senior author Tove Fall, an associate professor at Uppsala University.

And how do dogs go about keeping one heart-healthy? 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.

Having a dog can bring a lot of love into your life.

The study also says that having a dog increases people's motivation to be more active and add more physical activity into their lives, especially in single-person households where the individuals are exclusively responsible for walking and exercising with their pets.

The researchers believe that the single dog owners benefit from both walking and interacting with their pet.

Fall also adds that there may be slight differences between dog owners and non-owners well before any of the two groups were exposed to dogs, which could have influenced the results. (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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