If you own a dog, you probably find yourself gushing to others about how great your four-legged furball is. Now, there are compelling new scientific studies that prove just how amazing they really are!
Published in Circulation, a journal of the American Heart Association, the evidence shows that dog owners have a lower risk of death over the long term and are less likely to die from heart disease when compared to non-owners.
Researchers also determined that dog owners who experienced a heart attack or stroke had a significantly lower risk of dying from these causes when compared to non-owners.
The research shows that for dog owners:
- The risk of all-cause mortality is lowered by 24%, and the chance of dying from heart disease is reduced by 31%.
- The risk of death for heart attack patients living alone was 33% lower, and 15% lower for those living with a partner or child.
- The risk of death for stroke patients living alone was 27% lower, and 12% lower for those living with a partner or child.
The studies were originally used to see whether dog ownership was associated with reducing cardiovascular mortality, but the data showed that it fought off other causes of death as well.
“These two studies provide good, quality data indicating dog ownership is associated with reduced cardiac and all-cause mortality,” said Glenn N. Levine, MD, chair of the writing group of the American Heart Association. “While these non-randomized studies cannot ‘prove’ that adopting or owning a dog directly leads to reduced mortality, these robust findings are certainly at least suggestive of this.”
So what is causing dog owners to live longer than non-owners?
There have been many documented mental and physical health benefits to owning a dog. When it comes to mental health, dogs have been known to reduce stress and increase social interaction.
“Dogs offer companionship, reduce anxiety and loneliness, increase self-esteem, and improve overall mood,” said cardiologist Dr. Dhruv S. Kazi, in an editorial that accompanies the studies.
Previous studies have also shown the physical benefits of owning a dog. Just petting a dog can lower a person’s blood pressure! In addition, “Dog ownership may increase time spent outdoors, which has an independent positive effect on cardiovascular health,” said Dr. Kazi.
In fact, owning a dog can end up improving other health measures such as blood pressure and heart rate. By walking a dog 20 to 30 minutes a day, owners will meet the American Heart Association’s recommended 150 minutes of weekly moderate exercise to improve their cardiovascular health.
If you were on the fence about adding a furry family member to your household, remember, walking your dog isn’t just good for your pup — it’s very, very good for you too!