New research suggests a link between owning a dog and a lower risk of heart disease and early death. Swedish researchers published their findings in the journal Scientific Reports.
For their study, researchers sifted through health data on 3.4 million Swedes aged 40 to 80. Participants were tracked for 12 years starting 2001. At the beginning of the study, none of them had been diagnosed with heart disease.
In Sweden, pet owners are required to register their docs since 2001. As of 2012, more than 80 percent of dogs in Sweden appeared in the national register.
The new research found a statistically significant link between owning a dog and lower heart disease risk. Study authors believe that this is mainly due to factors that can boost cardiovascular risks such as depression and social isolation. What’s more, having a dog required staying physically active and going outdoors more than people who don’t own a dog.
People Living Alone Greatly Helped by Dogs
The analysis revealed that single people benefit the most from dog ownership when it comes to the health of their hearts. Moreover, hunting breeds lowered their owners’ cardiovascular disease risk the most.
People living alone have the highest risk of developing a heart disease or having a stroke. Dogs helped this group of people the most as people then to perceive them as a family member. The risk of heart disease dropped 11% and the risk of early death 33% in single households.
Researchers conceded that they haven’t found a causal relationship between owning a dog and lower risk of heart disease, but the association is telling. Other researchers acknowledged that dog owners tend to be more active, which also lowers the heart disease risk. Other factors that may contribute to the health benefits of owning a dog are the social contacts spurred by having a dog and the influence of a dog on its owner’s microbiome.
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