Is Dog Ownership Connected To Better Health?

33 pc reduction? Your dog is protecting you from this disease

The findings emerge from a study of more than 3.4 million people in Sweden whose medical and pet ownership records were analysed to investigate the potential health benefits of dog ownership.

According to a new study in a Swedish publication, dog ownership is associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease and death.

"It is also interesting that the dog has had an extremely beneficial impact on the lives of single people who are known to die more often than those who have a family, "said one of the chapters of the study group Mwenya of Mubanga".

The decrease was strongest in people who lived alone. Specifically, the research found there was a 33 percent reduction in risk of death and an 11 percent reduction in risk of having a heart attack during follow-up compared to people who lived alone who did not have a dog.

The team at Uppsala University analyzed national registries involving 3.4 million Swedes aged 40 to 80 without any prior cardiovascular diseases as of 2001. But did you know your dog could be saving your life? Dogs can alleviate psychosocial stress, depression and loneliness, according to the study, all of which are stressors that can encourage coronary heart disease, cardiovascular death and all-cause mortality. The study excluded the very young due to their low likelihood of developing CVD and the very elderly for their low odds of owning a dog. 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.


"There might ... be differences between [dog] owners and non-owners already before buying a dog, which could have influenced our results, such as those people choosing to get a dog tending to be more active and of better health", Tove Fall, senior study author and associate professor of epidemiology at Uppsala University, said in the statement.

Fall added that because all participants of the study were Swedish, the results most closely apply to dog owners in Sweden or other "European populations with similar culture regarding dog ownership".

Wolf-Klein believes that whatever the reasons behind the health benefit shown in the study, adopting a furry companion from a nearby shelter might be just what the doctor ordered.

In addition, the researchers were hesitant to assert conclusively that the habits surrounding dog ownership lead to health. "In warmer climates, they could keep them in the yard and won't have to actively take them for a walk", said Fall.

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