Dog Owners Live Longer

Molly Lally

But Minnesota Stroke Institute research over a 10-year period found similar benefits came with owning a cat.

"While these non-randomized studies can not "prove" that adopting or owning a dog directly leads to reduced mortality, these robust findings are certainly at least suggestive of this", said Dr. Glenn Levine, chair of the writing group of the American Heart Association's scientific statement on pet ownership.

The clinician scientist noted that it's a team that does not account for variables that can explain the difference in health outcomes between dog owners and the rest of the population.

These studies build on research and analyses from earlier studies and conclusions reached in a 2013 American Heart Association Scientific Statement entitled "Pet Owership and Cardiovascular Risk". But even the most effusive dog-lovers might not realize just how beneficial their pets can be.

The review of the health benefits of man's best friend analyzed research involving almost 4 million people in the United States, Canada, Scandinavia, New Zealand, Australia and the United Kingdom.

In the long run, that scamp is going to help you live a longer and healthier life. Researchers reviewed data on 3.8 million patients taken from 10 other studies, and found that dog owners experienced a 24% reduced risk of death from all causes; a 65% reduced risk of death following a heart attack; and a 31% reduced risk of death due to cardiovascular problems.

A study released Tuesday suggests dog owners live longer than their canine-less counterparts, experiencing almost a one-third lower risk of dying from heart problems.

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But she warned that people should consider what's best for themselves and the dog before running to the adoption centre in the name of improving their heart health.

The studies found that the participants who owned a dog had a 33% lower risk of death from a heart attack if they lived alone and 15% lower if they lived with a partner or child. The risk of death for them turned out to be 27% lower.

Although both studies are observational and would require a clinical trial to be proven, the AHA marks the findings as significant. Now, we know they make us healthier, too. Simply petting a dog - especially a familiar one - lowers a person's blood pressure.

"There are studies suggesting that individuals who have dogs have a better cholesterol profile and lower blood pressure", said Kramer, who is a pet owner.

"Dogs not only provide comfort and companionship, but several studies have found that dogs decrease stress and promote relaxation", the CDC says. In one, a group of cardiac patients who had been randomly instructed to acquire a dog or a cat showed a diminished blood pressure response to stressful situations.

It's possible that dog owners are more likely to have higher incomes, or that furry companions fit into their already active lifestyles, she said. "And I think that maybe dog ownership is part of that".

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