Dog-owners live longer, new study says

Modern dogs are descended from grey wolves and the process of domestication began about 33,000 years ago in Asia

The study notes that a much smaller Norwegian study of the same subject, undertaken with similar methods, didn't show a link between dog ownership and lower mortality.

They found that dog owners had a lower risk of death due to cardiovascular disease than people who did not report owning a dog, as well as a lower risk of death from other causes.

Working with her colleague, Mwenya Mubanga, on records from Sweden's national registries, Fall also looked at deaths from any cause and found that people who lived alone with their dogs were a third less likely to die over the study period than those without dogs. Solo residents had a 33% reduction in mortality and an 11% cut in the risk of heart attack compared to people who lived alone without a dog. We know that dog owners in general have a higher level of physical activity, which could be one explanation for the observed results.

The psychological effects of owning a dog are well-known: A furry housemate can reduce stress and improve well-being.

In fact, our very favorite part of dog ownership is when your dog desperately needs to go outside at about 3 am on a rainy night in November because it is extremely important that they sit on the lawn and sniff the air for half an hour.

Owning a dog from breeds originally bred for hunting, such as terriers, retrievers and scent hounds, was associated with the lowest risk of cardiovascular disorder. A dog forces you into more activity - he needs walks, after all! Than single people *without* dogs.

33 pc reduction? Your dog is protecting you from this disease

Cardiovascular disease causes more than a quarter (26 per cent) of all deaths in the United Kingdom 160,000 each year.

"We can not infer a causal relationship, however, dog ownership is associated with increased physical activity, improved psycho-social wellbeing and socialisation, all of which are associated with reduced CVD mortality- so it is plausible the effect is mediated though these mechanisms".

Now, the results of this study don't mean that there's a causal relationship between owning a dog and living longer.

But Fall does not believe that getting more exercise explains all, or even most, of the health effects that come with dog ownership.

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.


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