Dogs could increase owner's lifespan

18 November, 2017, 01:42 | Author: Rosa Wright
  • Stock image via Pixabay

A study in Sweden found that owning a dog is linked to a lower risk of dying earlier.

"The results showed that single dog owners had a 33 per cent reduction in risk of death and 11 per cent reduction in risk of cardiovascular disease during follow-up compared to single non-owners". Also, those who lived alone but with a canine had a 36 percent less likely of developing cardiovascular disease.

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

The team at Uppsala University analyzed national registries involving 3.4 million Swedes aged 40 to 80 without any prior cardiovascular diseases as of 2001. For instance, people who choose to get a dog are generally more active in the first place and of better health.

"Whether you're a pet owner or not, keeping active is a great way to help improve your heart health".

"These kind of epidemiological studies look for associations in large populations but do not provide answers on whether and how dogs could protect from cardiovascular disease".

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"It may encourage owners to improve their social life, and that in itself will reduce their stress level, which we know absolutely is a primary cause for cardiovascular disease and cardiac events", said Dr. Rachel Bond, Associate Director of Women's Heart Health at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, who was not involved in the research. Other explanations include effects of the dog on the bacterial microbiome in the owner, for example.

"Dog owners in particular tend to be a little more extroverted, or outgoing" Kay Joubert, Director Companion Animal Services at PAWS, told The Huffington Post.

There are also other factors that still need to be considered, such as the owner's personality and general physical health and activity.

While Bond may not prescribe a dog as treatment for a patient, she said that she will not discourage owning or buying one, or expressing the benefits of owning one. "Although careful attention was paid to adjusting for potential confounders in a set of sensitivity analyses, it is still possible that personal characteristics that we did not have information about affect the choice of not only acquiring a dog, but also the breed and the risk of CVD". (Might not get that one past the institutional review board.) But in the meantime, we'll take this association as further proof that dogs are the best and that's the end of the story.

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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