February 26, 2018

You could live longer if you had a dog

18 November 2017, 01:39 | Ruben Fields

More than just a cute face? Shutterstock antoniodiaz

More than just a cute face?   Shutterstock  antoniodiaz

The researchers offer the theory that dog owners live longer because canine pets provide a sort of social support and motivation for their humans to be more physically active.

They also said owning a dog may protect people from cardiovascular disease by increasing their social contact or wellbeing, or by changing the owner's bacterial microbiome. The results of the study were published for the first time in Scientific Reports.

Dog owners have a low risk of developing cardiovascular diseases that further enables them to reduce the risk of mortality, a new research confirmed.

For the study, Mubanga and team used data from the Sweden's Register of the Total Population to evaluate the heart health of more than 3.4 million Swedes between 40 and 80 years old over 12 years (from 2001 to 2013).

According to the results, single dog owners had a 33% reduction in the risk of premature death and 11% reduction in the risk of cardiovascular disease when compared to single non-owners. Even more interesting: Owners of breeds like terriers, retrievers and scent hounds were even less likely to develop heart disease. In addition, the single adults with dogs were 36 percent less likely to die from cardiovascular disease. "Another interesting finding was that owners to dogs from breed groups originally bred for hunting were most protected", explains Mwenya Mubanga, lead junior author of the study and Ph.D. student at the Department of Medical Sciences and the Science for Life Laboratory at Uppsala University (as cited in an article by the university posted on the Laboratory Equipment website).

Flickr  Paul L Dineen
Flickr Paul L Dineen

A new study by researchers at Uppsala University in Sweden found that bringing a new little furball into your life can improve your heart health, especially if you live alone.

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.

"Dog owners in particular tend to be a little more extroverted, or outgoing" Kay Joubert, Director Companion Animal Services at PAWS, told The Huffington Post.

While the research was carried out in Sweden, Fall does believe it may also apply to other countries, including the US, since popular breeds and people's attitudes toward dog care are similar. "Our observational study can not provide evidence for a causal effect of dog ownership on cardiovascular disease or mortality", they write. "The associations we see may be that dogs affect the owner's lifestyle and well-being positively", said Fall.

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