Dogs could increase owner's lifespan

Stock image via Pixabay

Dog ownership was *especially* beneficial for people living *alone*.

Single people may be able to cut their risk of dying from heart disease relative to their married friends if they get a golden retriever, a new, 12-year study of millions of Swedish people has found.

While owning a dog may help physical activity, researchers said it may be active people who choose to own dogs. Also, those who lived alone but with a canine had a 36 percent less likely of developing cardiovascular disease.

People who live with others also saw Fido-related benefits, but not as much as the single folks.

Fall and co-authors drew from a nation-wide register of more than 3.4 million Swedish adults between 40 and 80 years old for their trial.

Having a dog can bring a lot of love into your life.

While the research was carried out in Sweden, Fall does believe it may also apply to other countries, including the USA, since popular breeds and people's attitudes toward dog care are similar.

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Working with her colleague, Mwenya Mubanga, on records from Sweden's national registries, Fall also looked at deaths from any cause and found that people who lived alone with their dogs were a third less likely to die over the study period than those without dogs. The odds of having a heart attack at all were 11% lower in single dog owners.

"This was one of the most interesting findings: we see that dogs have a larger impact in households without other humans", Tove Fall, the study's senior author and an associate professor at Uppsala University, told The Local.

Researchers at Uppsala University in Sweden have posited the theory that this is due to the fact that dogs have the ability to change their owner's bacterial microbiome by exposing them to bacteria they had not yet encountered.

There's no particular reason to think the results would differ in the United States; it would really depend on how similar Americans' attitudes and behaviors as dog parents are to Swedish pet owners.

Bond commented that owners of hunting breeds may be getting more exercise because these dogs are more active as opposed to small dogs who do not require as much exercise.

Fall believes that while their study provides strong evidence for the health benefits of dogs, their work is not done yet, since it does not answer why dogs achieve these results or why specific breeds seems to offer more protection. "The primary reason to adopt a dog or any other pet should be to give that dog or pet a loving home and to not do it just thinking that okay, I have a dog and now I'm going to be healthier". "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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