Dog owners have healthier hearts

Even more research is backing the health benefits of owning pets, with a new study from Sweden’s Uppsala University showing that dog owners have a significantly lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease.

The massive study examined the effect dog ownership had on cardiovascular health on more than 3.4 million Swedes over a 12 year period. They found that dog ownership was associated with lower risk of cardiovascular disease and “all-cause mortality”.

“We know that dog owners in general have a higher level of physical activity, which could be one explanation to the observed results,” explains 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 or effects of the dog on the bacterial microbiome in the owner.”

Of interest was the massive increase in prevention dogs had on people living alone. Single dog owners had a 33% reduction in risk of death and 11% reduced risk of heart attack.

“Persons living alone [are] 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,” explains Mwenya Mubanga, lead junior author of the study.

“Another interesting finding was that owners to dogs from breed groups originally bred for hunting were most protected,” said Mubanga.

Hunting breeds include terriers, retrievers, pointers, gundogs and scent hounds.