Owning a dog can help you live longer, study reveals

It's not just cats and dogs. Studies find health benefits for owners of all kinds of pets including birds hamsters gerbils fish snakes... and even bugs. One study found nursing home residents who cared for cockroaches were less depressed after

Even following the best medical care, patient health can take a turn for the worse after returning home.

A separate study of more than 336,000 Swedish men and women, also published Tuesday in "Circulation", likewise found people who owned dogs had better health outcomes after suffering a major cardiovascular event such as heart attack or stroke. "As such, the findings that people who owned dogs lived longer and their risk for cardiovascular death was also lower are somewhat expected".

This is especially true in patients who have suffered heart attacks or strokes.

Dog ownership is associated with better outcomes after a major cardiovascular event as well as a reduced risk for all-cause mortality, according to a cohort study and a meta-analysis published online October 8 in Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes.

Both published studies were observational, meaning that researchers cannot prove that dog ownership was the direct cause of the increased life expectancy or the better health outcomes after heart attack and stroke; only a randomized clinical trial could answer those questions.

"There are studies suggesting that individuals who have dogs have a better cholesterol profile and lower blood pressure", said Kramer, who is a pet owner.

"But these studies suggest that adopting a dog may be as much of a service to your own health as the dog's", he said, according to NBC News.

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Researchers at The University of Toronto analyzed data from four million people in six different countries.

The study participants were between the ages of 40 and 85 and had suffered heart attacks or strokes between 2001 and 2012.

"These findings should encourage clinicians to discuss pet adoption with their patients, particularly those with preexisting cardiovascular disease and those living by themselves", writes the author of an accompanying editorial. For inclusion in the current analysis, studies needed to be done in a population aged 18 or older, present original data of prospective observational studies, evaluate dog ownership at baseline, and report all-cause mortality or cardiovascular mortality. "Previous studies have indicated that dog owners experience less social isolation and have more interaction with other people", said Tove Fall, D.

In the study, the researchers tracked and followed the patients. On the other hand, 155,000 people had an ischemic stroke, with 5 percent as dog owners.

Overall, dog owners were 24% less likely to die over the next decade than non-dog owners.

However, Dr. Warraich said more research needs to be done and added: "It's not enough to have me recommend patients adopt a dog to lower their risk of death". But studies looking at whether having a dog extends survival have had mixed results.

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