Dog Owners Live Longer and Healthier Lives
Health & Beauty / /
Dog owners surely know that their companions are providing them with happiness, comfort, a source of physical activity, and much more, especially for people who live alone. But did you know that your dogs are actually saving your lives?
To study that included 3.4 million Swedish men and women, ages 40 to 80 with no history of cardiovascular diseases, examined their national registry records for about 12 years. One among the parameters that were taken in consideration was whether they were dog owners, which is also recorded in their national database.
The results showed that dog owners had noticeably lower risk of death due to cardiovascular disease as well as a lower risk of death from other causes compared to people who didn’t own a dog. Such a conclusion was confirmed even after adjusting for other risk factors such as body mass index, smoking and socioeconomic status.
People who lived alone with a dog had a 33% reduced risk of death, and an 11% reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, than people who lived alone without a dog.
The purpose of this study was not designed to show the causal relation between owning a dog and reduced risk of death or cardiovascular disease. It’s possible that people who choose to own dogs may simply be more active and with better health, according to the authors of the study.
But speaking of the reasons behind these results, it’s very likely, says senior author Tove Fall, a veterinarian and associate professor of epidemiology—that taking care of a dog encourages people to stay active and live a healthier lifestyle. “I have met numerous owners that are convinced that their pet has been instrumental for them, often in terms of social support,” she says. “As a dog owner, I also notice that the people I meet during walks are often other dog owners, especially in bad weather.”
Another possible reason could be a dog’s effect on owner’s microbiome. Other studies in the same field have suggested that growing up with a dog can decrease asthma and allergies in children, providing immune-boosting benefits for them as well as for adults.
Scientists aren’t claiming that getting a dog will definitely help a person live longer, but Fall believes it would not be a bad idea. The results of the study can be generalized to the entire Sweden, and likely to the United States and other European countries with similar living and cultural habits.