The positive impact our furry friends can have on our lives is undeniable. In fact, psychologists and wellness experts the world over have been touting the benefits of ‘dog therapy’ for decades. But, what many might not know is that it’s actually been proven that owning a dog can lead to a longer life! Yep, that’s right – in a recent study, Swedish scientists have found a direct correlation between owning a dog and a decrease in early mortality rates.
The study analysed the hospital record of 3.4 million people aged 40 to 80, and compared them to dog ownership registers. The team found there was a lower risk of cardiovascular disease in owners of dogs, and that dogs could have a particularly positive effect on those who live alone – a group previously found to be at a higher risk of cardiovascular death.
“The results showed that single dog owners had a 33% reduction in risk of death and 11% reduction in risk of heart attack,” compared to single non-owners, said lead study author Mwenya Mubanga of Uppsala University.
Researchers believe there could be a few reasons WHY dog owners have lower rates of early mortality. Firstly, owning a dog can encourage physical activity. It can also protect people from cardiovascular disease by increasing their social contact or wellbeing. Or, it could be that having a dog in your home means you are exposed to many different bacteria’s that you might not be otherwise, which leads to a more comprehensive immunity.
While it might not be realistic for everyone to own a dog (apartment dwellers, we hear you!), it does give you a very good excuse to make friends with your neighborhood pooches, offer to dog walk for your friends, or even sign-up to be a temporary dog fosterer at your local lost dogs home.