Can Owning a Dog Help You Live Longer? Researchers Seem to Think So!

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October 4, 2019
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“Dog ownership for people living alone is associated with a 33% lower risk of death for heart attack survivors & 27% reduced risk of death for stroke survivors”

Recent research which has shown these findings, also indicates that: “dog ownership was associated with a 24% reduced risk of all-cause mortality, and a 31% lower risk of death by heart attack or stroke compared to non-owners” [1]. So our pooches aren’t just our faithful, non-judgmental friends; they also seem to be able to protect us from various diseases.

Substantial Positive Research

The study in question, as well as an independent meta-analysis (the examination of data from various independent studies of the same topic, for the purpose of determining general trends), was published in a well known journal of the American Heart Association, Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes. The chairman of the writing group of the American Heart Association’s scientific statement on pet ownership, Glenn N. Levine, M.D., noted: “The findings in these two well-done studies and analyses build upon prior studies and the conclusions of the 2013 AHA Scientific Statement ‘Pet Ownership and Cardiovascular Risk,’ that dog ownership is associated with reductions in factors that contribute to cardiac risk and to cardiovascular events”.

Further, Levine also stated that: “these two studies provide good, quality data indicating dog ownership is associated with reduced cardiac and all-cause mortality. While these non-randomized studies cannot ‘prove’ that adopting or owning a dog directly leads to reduced mortality, these robust findings are certainly at least suggestive of this. – So this is very hopeful news indeed!

So How Can this Lower Risk of  Death be Explained?

There are various factors that should be taken into account here. For instance: the pooch owner could be less lonely and depressed, as they always have their furry friend around to talk to. Further, they may also get to know other dog owners, who they regularly talk to, when they are out and about walking their four legged friend.  Moreover, dog owners are likely to enjoy far greater physical activity, [and more fresh air], by taking the dog out for regular walks [1], and constantly running after him or her, especially if the latter are naughty!

The Perspective of an Expert

One of Sweden’s Uppsala University’s leading professors, Tove Fall, D. V. M., remarked: “We know that social isolation is a strong risk factor for worse health outcomes and premature death. Previous studies have indicated that dog owners experience less social isolation, and have more interaction with other people. Furthermore, keeping a dog is a good motivation for physical activity, which is an important factor in rehabilitation and mental health.

Consolidation of Good News

Clinician scientist at Leadership Sinai Centre, and Assistant Professor of Medicine at the University of Toronto, Caroline Kramer, M.D. Ph.D., commented on the research findings by saying: “Having a dog was associated with increased physical exercise, lower blood pressure levels, and better cholesterol profile in previous reports. As such, the findings that people who owned dogs lived longer and their risk for cardiovascular death was also lower are somewhat expected”.

Shirley Amy is a Holistic Health Specialist and professional writer who’s published 4 books. Her  interests include optimum wellness, mental health, fitness, and positive lifestyle change. She holds University and College qualifications in the fields of Health Science, Nutrition, Mental Health, Fitness, Holistic Therapy and Aromatherapy.
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