The latest study of 3.4 million people shows a link between dogs and owners’ longevity

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If you want one more strong reason to appreciate dogs in your life, you have it – according to a new study of 3.4 million people, owning a dog is linked to a longer life span for the owners. This research, done at Uppsala University in Sweden, was published in Scientific Reports, and its sample size is by far the largest on this topic.

It studied the link between dogs and longevity by reviewing national registry records of Swedish men and women aged 40 to 80. They focused on 3.4 million people who had no history of cardiovascular disease in 2001, and followed their health records—as well as whether they registered as a dog owner—for about 12 years.

They found that dog owners had a lower risk of death due to cardiovascular disease than people who did not report owning a dog, as well as a lower risk of death from other causes.

That was true even after adjusting for factors such as smoking, body mass index 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 research is not designed to show a cause-and-effect relationship between dog ownership and reduced risk of death or cardiovascular disease. It’s possible that taking care of a dog prompts people to do exercise and stay active. It’s possible that dogs provide social and emotional support. It’s also possible that people who choose to keep dogs are simply in better health to begin with.

All in all, it’s music to the ears of dog lovers and dog parents.

live longer with dogs

Source: Dog ownership and the risk of cardiovascular disease and death – a nationwide cohort study. Published in 17 November, 2017.

 

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