Health Care

New study shows owning a dog lowers risk of cardiovascular disease

The researchers compared the health of people who owned and didn't own dogs by cross checking with Sweden's detailed dog ownership databases.

Dog owners have healthier hearts, according to a vast Swedish study that covered millions of people.

Older studies have suggested that the risk of heart disease is higher among people who live alone.

The study aimed to build upon previous findings, including an American Heart Association scientific statement released in 2013 that concluded "pet ownership, particularly dog ownership, is probably associated with decreased CVD risk".

As well as offering companionship and boosting non-human interactions, dogs also encourage their owners to exercise via walks, the researchers add.

Dog ownership correlates with lower rates of mortality and some fatal diseases, particularly cardiovascular disease, a study published last week concluded.

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The study linked ownership of breeds originally bred for hunting, including terriers and retrievers, with the lowest risk of CVD.

In single-person households, dog ownership was tied to a 36 percent lower risk of cardiovascular death, while dog ownership in multi-person households was linked to a 15 percent reduced risk of cardiovascular death.

The authors of the Swedish study believe it's the largest-ever investigation of a link between dog ownership and human health.

"We know that dog owners in general have a higher level of physical activity", explains senior study author Tove Fall, also of the Department of Medical Sciences and the Science for Life Laboratory at Uppsala University, "which could be one explanation to the observed results".

"There might be differences between owners and non-owners already before buying a dog, which could have influenced our results, such as those people choosing to get a dog tending to be more active and of better health".

"Other explanations include an increased well-being and social contacts or effects of the dog on the bacterial microbiome in the owner", she adds".

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