Ask people who own dogs what makes them so special and you’ll hear words like friendship (man’s best friend after all), companionship, loyalty and unconditional love. There’s another word you may be be hearing a lot more following the results of a recent study on our relationship with dogs……lifesaver!
The benefits that come with owning a dog are clear– physical activity, support, companionship — but owning a dog could literally be saving your life.
Dog ownership is associated with a reduced risk for cardiovascular disease and death, finds a new Swedish study published Friday in the journal Scientific Reports.
For people living alone, owning a dog can decrease their risk of death by 33% and their risk of cardiovascular related death by 36%, when compared to single individuals without a pet, according to the study. Chances of a heart attack were also found to be 11% lower.
According to Quartz Media, “The researchers offer the theory that dog owners live longer because canine pets provide a sort of social support and motivation for their humans to be more physically active. As a result, the researchers posit, dog owners went out more and had added social interaction than those without dogs.”
The study does not claim that dogs have magical effects on the human heart, however. Instead, it may just come down to the fact that having a dog makes you do healthy things: “Dogs may be beneficial in reducing cardiovascular risk by providing a non-human form of social support and increasing physical activity,” the researchers wrote. And while it may be miserable to walk your dog in the pouring rain, the report notes that “dog ownership also supports the maintenance of physical activity during poor weather.”
BBC News quoted Mike Knapton of the British Heart Foundation, as saying, “Owning a dog is associated with reduced mortality and risk of having heart disease. Previous studies have shown this association but have not been as conclusive – largely due to the population size studied here. Dog ownership has many benefits, and we may now be able to count better heart health as one of them.”
Numerous other online publications wrote about the heart-healthy findings in this new study. Click on the links below to read more.
We’d love to hear your thoughts on this latest research. Do you think dogs can add years to our lives? Let us know why or why not. Generating thoughtful conversations around the health issues making headlines is another way we are working toward our long-term goal of one day making Arizona the Healthiest State in the Nation!