A new study recently published in Scientific Reports suggests that owning a dog will add years to your life.
A team of Swedish scientists at Uppsala University tracked the health and dog ownership status of more than 3.4 million Swedes aged 40 to 80 years old for 12 years. No one involved had a history of cardiovascular disease.
Everyone in Sweden has a unique personal ID number, all hospital visits are recorded, and dog ownership registration is mandatory, which makes it the perfect case study for this type of research.
Their study found that dog owners were less at risk of dying from cardiovascular disease and other causes.
“A very interesting finding in our study was that 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 than those living in a multi-person household. Perhaps a dog may stand in as an important family member in the single households. The results showed that single dog owners had a 33% reduction in risk of death and 11% reduction in risk of myocardial infarction during follow-up compared to single non-owners. Another interesting finding was that owners to dogs from breed groups originally bred for hunting were most protected,” says Mwenya Mubanga, lead junior author of the study and PhD student at the Department of Medical Sciences and the Science for Life Laboratory, Uppsala University.
“We know that dog owners in general have a higher level of physical activity, which could be one explanation to the observed results,” says Tove Fall, senior author of the study and Associate Professor in Epidemiology at the Department of Medical Sciences and the Science for Life Laboratory, Uppsala University. “Other explanations include an increased well-being and social contacts.”