Best Friend, Longer Life | Study finds dog owners enjoy lower mortality risks

Benefits of having a pet

The researchers found that, compared to non-owners, dog owners experienced a 24% reduced risk of all-cause mortality and a 65% reduced risk of mortality after suffering a heart attack.

"While these non-randomized studies can not "prove" that adopting or owning a dog directly leads to reduced mortality, these robust findings are certainly at least suggestive of this", said Dr. Glenn Levine, chair of the writing group of the American Heart Association's scientific statement on pet ownership.

Having a dog, it seems, is a big advantage for your health.

These studies build on research and analyses from earlier studies and conclusions reached in a 2013 American Heart Association Scientific Statement entitled "Pet Owership and Cardiovascular Risk".

Kramer says the results are promising, but more research is needed to prove there are health benefits to having a dog.

In the second study, researchers at the University of Toronto examined the data of more than 3.8 million people covered in 10 previous studies.

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

"Dogs offer companionship, reduce anxiety and loneliness, increase self-esteem, and improve overall mood " So what exactly is it about owning a dog that would make people live longer?

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In two papers, participants reported that their physical activity increased after adopting a dog. The data showed even greater benefits among those who'd experienced cardiovascular issues, such as a heart attack and stroke.

By the end, researchers determined those who suffered a stroke or heart attack and also owned a dog had a significantly lower risk of death from a heart attack or stroke compared to those who did not own a dog.

"We know that loneliness and social isolation are strong risk factors for premature death and our hypothesis was that the company of a pet can alleviate that", said study author Tove Fall, an associate professor of epidemiology at Uppsala University in Sweden.

Researchers haven't done many studies, for instance, that direct one group of people to purchase a dog, and another group to remain petless, and track their health over a period of time.

However, the benefits of dogs are not only physical, they also contribute to human mental health. Merely petting a dog - notably a neatly-diagnosed one - lowers a individual's blood stress.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention sees the health value in dog ownership.

A study released Tuesday suggests dog owners live longer than their canine-less counterparts, experiencing almost a one-third lower risk of dying from heart problems. It might be possible, for instance, that doctors might someday prescribe ownership of a dog to certain vulnerable patients, based on a new evidence-based policy.

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