Owning a dog can help you live longer, new study reveals

Henrietta Strickland
October 9, 2019

"As such, the findings that people who owned dogs lived longer and their risk for cardiovascular death was also lower are somewhat expected", she said.

Our four-legged friends have always been praised for their ability to help mental wellbeing, reducing anxiety and loneliness, but less has been reported about how they might have a positive effect on physical health.

Researchers found that compared to non-owners, dog owners experienced a 24 per cent reduced risk of all-cause mortality, 65 per cent reduced risk of mortality after heart attack; and 31 per cent reduced risk of mortality due to cardiovascular-related issues.

One study discovered that "the act of petting a dog reduces blood pressure as much as medication to treat hypertension", Kramer said.

Researchers in this study compared the health outcomes of dog owners and non-owners after a heart attack or stroke using health data provided by the Swedish National Patient Register.

"My own hypothesis is that the biggest driver of this is what dog ownership does for one's mental health", said Kazi, who wrote an accompanying editorial about the two new reports.

In a study of dog-owning and non-dog owning survivors of heart attacks or strokes, researchers determined that dog owners across the board experienced lower rates of death from heart attacks or strokes.

A new study published on Tuesday in Circulation, a journal of the American Heart Association, finds that having a dog caused pet owners to live longer.

Fall, a veterinarian and professor of Molecular Epidemiology at Sweden's Uppsala University, commented in a statement: "We know that social isolation is a strong risk factor for worse health outcomes and premature death".

"Having a dog was associated with increased physical exercise, lower blood pressure levels and better cholesterol profile in previous reports", said Dr.

But the Swedish study suggests that the companionship of a dog also contributes to a person's health, said Dr. Dhruv Kazi, associate director of the Smith Center for Outcomes Research in Cardiology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, in Boston. That's especially important after a major illness, such as a heart attack or stroke. However, more research is needed to confirm a causal relationship and giving recommendations about prescribing dogs for prevention.

"But if possible, I always encourage them to get a dog", she said, "perhaps an older dog who needs to be rescued and not a puppy that will be harder to manage".

"Further, these two studies provide good, quality data indicating dog ownership is associated with reduced cardiac and all-cause mortality".

However, the AHA also says that pet ownership is a caring commitment that comes with certain financial costs and responsibilities, so "the primary goal of adopting, rescuing, or purchasing a pet" should not be to reduce cardiovascular risk.

Does that mean that even younger people benefit from having a dog? "So like walking, not smoking".

"If you own a dog, it doesn't matter how exhausted you are or how cold out it is, you still have to go for a walk".

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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