Health Care

Owning a dog can help you live longer, study reveals

Owning a dog can help you live longer, study reveals”

The lower risk of death associated with dog ownership could be explained by an increase in physical activity and the decreased depression and loneliness, both of which have been connected to dog ownership in previous studies. This gap was even more pronounced among dog owners who had survived a heart attack, whose risk of death was 65 per cent lower than non-owners.

One study discovered that "the act of petting a dog reduces blood pressure as much as medication to treat hypertension", Kramer said.

A total of 181,696 patients had a heart attack and 154,617 had a stroke in this period, with 5.7 percent percent of the former and 4.8 percent of the latter owning dogs, respectively. Similarly, stroke patients who owned dogs and were living alone after being hospitalized had a 27% lower chance of dying than non-owners.

Researchers analyzed data on more than 3.8 million people taken from 10 studies published between 1950 and 2019.

While it's hard to disentangle cause and effect without a randomized clinical trial, Kramer said there's research to indicate that man's best friend may be good for your health.

"Likewise, additional health benefits of dog companionship, such as positive social-psychological effects, should be taking into consideration as dog ownership can be particularly beneficial for specific populations such as single elderly individuals".

Professor Tove Fall, from Uppsala University, said keeping a dog can also help because it is a good motivation for physical activity, but warned that further research is needed.

In the Swedish study, Dr. Mwenya Mubanga of Uppsala University and her colleagues combed their nation's patient database for all people aged 40 to 85 who'd had a heart attack or stroke from 2001 through 2012.

"More research is needed to confirm a causal relationship and giving recommendations about prescribing dogs for prevention", Fall noted. People who'd suffered a heart attack or other cardiovascular event had a 65% reduced risk of dying over the next decade if they owned a dog.

"Moreover, from an animal welfare perspective, dogs should only be acquired by people who feel they have the capacity and knowledge to give the pet a good life", he added.

Caroline Kramer, an endocrinologist at Mount Sinai Hospital, led the systematic review published by an American Heart Association journal.

Everyone who owned a dog had a reduced risk of death compared to those without a dog, but that risk was doubly reduced in people who lived alone versus those living with another person, the researchers found. Our analyses did not account for confounders such as better fitness or an overall healthier lifestyle that could be associated with dog ownership. The results, however, were very positive. "As a pet owner myself, I can say that adopting Romeo (the author's miniature Schnauzer) has increased my steps and physical activity each day, and he has filled my daily routine with joy and unconditional love".



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