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New research shows that owning a dog could save your life
18 November 2017, 01:39 | Hattie Nash
Hanging around with this dog could be good for your health
"Another interesting finding was that owners to dogs from breed groups originally bred for hunting were most protected", explains Mwenya Mubanga, lead junior author of the study and Ph.D. student at the Department of Medical Sciences and the Science for Life Laboratory at Uppsala University (as cited in an article by the university posted on the Laboratory Equipment website).
"Dog ownership was especially prominent as a protective factor in persons living alone, which is a group reported previously to be at higher risk of cardiovascular disease and death", Mubanga said.
A single dog owner is likely the only person who regularly walks and interacts with her pet, which could contribute to these individuals' reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and death, according to the study.
Multi-person household owners also saw benefits, though to a lesser extent.
By evaluating health records, it found that registered dog owners had a lower risk of having heart attacks and other life-threatening conditions.
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. 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. However, owning any dog will reduce an owners risk of death, just to different extents, said Tove Fall, senior author of the study and Associate Professor in Epidemiology at Uppsala University.
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"We know that dog owners in general have a higher level of physical activity, which could be one explanation to the observed results", Fall said. The investment, though, may be worth it. Dog ownership, new research shows, is a form of natural insurance offering health and longevity, along with the affection of an animal companion.
"However, as many dog owners may agree, the main reason for owning a dog is the sheer joy". Other explanations include effects of the dog on the bacterial microbiome in the owner, for example.
"It is hard to say if there truly is a causal effect".
"Dog ownership has many benefits, and we may now be able to count better heart health as one of them".
"There might also be differences between owners and non-owners already before buying a dog, which could have influenced our results, such as those people choosing to get a dog tending to be more active and of better health".
"I think it would be hard to take the data from Sweden and apply it to the USA since we have a more diverse population".
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