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18 November 2017, 01:11 | Francis Delgado
Owning a dog slashes the risk of suffering a premature death by a third new research reveals
They may be man's best friend, but a new study suggests dogs can do much more.
They are. But a new study out of Sweden shows that not only do dogs add joy to our lives, they also add years to it.
As a single dog owner, an individual is the sole person walking and interacting with their pet as opposed to married couples or households with children, which may contribute to greater protection from cardiovascular disease and death, said the study.
"Dog ownership is associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease in single households and with a reduced risk of cardiovascular and all-cause death in the general population", the study concludes.
Another finding was that owners of dogs from breed groups originally bred for hunting were the ones most protected, so dogs in the retriever, terrier, and scent hound families are the ones that may provide the mostbenefit.
The Swedish team looked at data from the country's registry, which included 3.4 million people who, in 2001, had no history of cardiovascular disease. Other reasons might involve an increased well-being and social contacts or effects of the dog on the bacterial microbiome in the owner.
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Are you a dog lover? The study excluded the very young due to their low likelihood of developing CVD and the very elderly for their low odds of owning a dog.
Fall, who owns a five-month-old puppy, and her colleagues were even able to pin down which dog breeds had the strongest association with reduced risk.
The results? Dog owners - especially dog owners who lived alone - had a lower risk of dying from cardiovascular disease.
Senior author of the study, Tove Fall, elaborated on this, saying: "There might also 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". Dogs can alleviate psychosocial stress, depression and loneliness, according to the study, all of which are stressors that can encourage coronary heart disease, cardiovascular death and all-cause mortality.
There's no particular reason to think the results would differ in the United States; it would really depend on how similar Americans' attitudes and behaviors as dog parents are to Swedish pet owners.
The effect also varies across different breed groups, according to the study's findings, with owners of larger, more active breeds drawing the most health benefits from their canine pals. After all, a dog must be walked, so dog owners walk more than non-dog owners. Just over 13 per cent were dog owners.
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