Dogs Help People Live Longer, Lower Heart Attack, Stroke Risks

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:

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:

*Agria Research Foundation and the Swedish Research Council for Environment, Agricultural Sciences and Spatial Planning (FORMAS), grant number 2013-1673 funded the study