Owning a dog reduces your risk of dying early, study finds

Pets bring joy to our lives. Need more proof than the gleeful smile on this child's face? A study from Indiana University found simply watching cat videos boosted energy and healthy positive emotions and decreased negati

Pets bring joy to our lives. Need more proof than the gleeful smile on this child's face? A study from Indiana University found simply watching cat videos boosted energy and healthy positive emotions and decreased negati

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.

A second scientific review and meta-analysis about dog ownership and survival rates backs up these results.

But she warned that people should consider what's best for themselves and the dog before running to the adoption centre in the name of improving their heart health.

The study participants were between the ages of 40 and 85 and had suffered heart attacks or strokes between 2001 and 2012. Caroline Kramer, an assistant professor of medicine at the University of Toronto, Canada.

Man's best friend has always been praised for the ability to help mental wellbeing, reducing anxiety and loneliness, but less has been reported about how dogs might have a positive effect on physical health. The heart attack patients who owned a dog and lived alone had a 33% lower risk of having another heart attack, while the risk was reduced by 15% for those who lived with a dog plus a partner or child. Similarly, stroke patients who owned dogs and were living alone after being hospitalized had a 27% lower chance of dying than non-owners.

Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes, online October 8, 2019.

Kramer undertook the research after noticing changes in her own behavior after she adopted her own dog, a miniature schnauzer named Romeo. "Maybe it's not the dog itself, it's that people already have a healthier lifestyle before".

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

Dr Kramer said: "Our findings suggest that having a dog is associated with longer life".

"The findings in these two well-done studies and analyses build upon prior studies and the conclusions of the 2013 AHA Scientific Statement "Pet Ownership and Cardiovascular Risk" that dog ownership is associated with reductions in factors that contribute to cardiac risk and to cardiovascular events", said Dr. Glenn N. Levine, M.D., in a statement for the American Heart Association.

The results were similar for those who were treated for a stroke. Of the 10 studies reviewed, nine included comparison of all-cause mortality outcomes for dog owners and non-owners, and four compared cardiovascular outcomes for dog owners and non-owners.

"Furthermore, keeping a dog is a good motivation for physical activity, which is an important factor in rehabilitation and mental health".

Isolation and loneliness have been linked to poor heart health outcomes, Kazi said, and owning a dog appears to ease a person's solitude enough to have a real benefit.

The Swedish study illustrates this.

However, Kazi added that it would be a mistake to overlook the physical benefits of having a dog. "That's what you have to do", Kazi said.

"If you own a dog, it doesn't matter how exhausted you are or how cold out it is, you still have to go for a walk".