Dogs drastically lowers risk of premature death, especially in people living alone

Having a pet dog can lower heart disease risk

Having a pet dog can lower heart disease risk

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.

They found *dog owners* had a lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease or other causes.

The study also says that having a dog increases people's motivation to be more active and add more physical activity into their lives, especially in single-person households where the individuals are exclusively responsible for walking and exercising with their pets.

People who live alone have been shown previously to be at a higher risk of cardiovascular death.

According to a study of 3.4 million people, dog owners have a lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease.

Owners of hunting breeds, such as retrievers, scent hounds and terriers, were the most protected from cardiovascular disease and death.

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.

Are you a dog lover?

Will new blood pressure guidelines cost Americans?
There are no obvious symptoms, which is why it is often called, "the silent killer ". You might have high blood pressure and not even realize it.

Though dog owners overall saw these benefits, the effects were strongest among people who lived alone, who were 36% less likely to develop heart disease and 33% less likely to die than people living alone who don't own dogs.

The researchers also said that aside from physical activity, owning a dog might also contribute to a person's wellbeing by increasing social contact or possibly changing gut bacteria.

"There might ... be differences between [dog] 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", Tove Fall, senior study author and associate professor of epidemiology at Uppsala University, said in the statement.

The risk of death fell by 11 percent in households with multiple people. Here's what else they found and details on how they conducted their study.

Fall says the study's results can be generalized to the entire Swedish population, and likely to other European countries with similar living standards and culture regarding dog ownership.

"However, as many dog owners may agree, the main reason for owning a dog is the sheer joy".

The effect also varies across different breed groups, according to the study's findings, with owners of larger, more active breeds drawing the most health benefits from their canine pals. Just over 13 per cent were dog owners.

Scientists said the companionship was key, along with the physical activity in taking it for a walk. "More studies should be obtained in the United States", said Bond.

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