The results of two new scientific studies have demonstrated that dog ownership can help humans live longer, healthier lives. In fact, the data suggest that having a dog can lower your risk of death from heart attack and stroke. From companionship, to responsibility, to exercise from walking and playing with a dog, researchers say there are many benefits to health from dog ownership.
Overall Findings from these studies
♠ Dog owners have a lower risk of early death than people without canine companionship, particularly when it comes to dying from a heart attack or stroke.
♠ Dog ownership decreases a person’s overall risk of premature death by 24 percent.
♠ The benefit of having a dog as a companion is most pronounced in people with existing heart problems. Dog owners had a 65 percent reduced risk of death following a heart attack and a 31 percent reduced risk of death from heart disease.
♠ Previous heart attack and stroke victims who own dogs have a lower risk of dying, particularly if they live alone.
♠ Owning a dog reduced a heart attack patient’s risk of death by 33 percent if they live alone, and 15 percent if they live with a partner or child.
♠ Death risk for dog-owning stroke survivors was 27 percent lower if they live alone and 12 percent lower for those living with someone.
♠ Part of the benefit is likely due to the physical activity that comes with having a dog.
♠ The researchers reviewed data for more than 3.8 million people taken from 10 separate studies, and concluded that owning a dog is associated with a long-term lower risk of premature death.
♠ Previous research has found that dog owners tend to have lower blood pressure, healthier cholesterol levels and less stress.
♠ One study discovered that the act of petting a dog reduces blood pressure as much as medication to treat hypertension.
♠ The results of one of the studies suggest that the companionship of a dog also contributes to a person’s health. Researchers in Sweden examined their nation’s patient database for all people aged 40 to 85 who’d had a heart attack or stroke from 2001 through 2012. The investigators identified more than 181,000 heart attack victims, about 6 percent of whom owned a dog, and nearly 155,000 stroke survivors, of whom 5 percent owned a dog. 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.
Journal Reference: Kramer, C, Mehmood, S. & Suen, R. Dog Ownership and Survival: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis, Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcome, Vol. 12 (10), Oct. 2019. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1161/CIRCOUTCOMES.119.005554
Journal Reference: Mwenya Mubanga, M.D., M.P.H.; Liisa Byberg, Ph.D.; Agneta Egenvall, V.M.D., Ph.D.; Erik Ingelsson, MD, Ph.D. and Tove Fall, V.M.D., Ph.D. Dog Ownership and Survival After a Major Cardiovascular Event: A Register-Based Prospective Study*, Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcome, Vol. 12 (10), Oct. 2019, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1161/CIRCOUTCOMES.118.005342
*Agria Research Foundation and the Swedish Research Council for Environment, Agricultural Sciences and Spatial Planning (FORMAS), grant number 2013-1673 funded the study