Dogs could increase owner's lifespan

Dogs could increase owner's lifespan

The study-with a sample size hundreds of times larger than any other studies on this topic-was not created to show a cause-and-effect relationship between dog ownership and reduced risk of death or cardiovascular disease, or to determine why these factors may be related.

"There are major differences between people who choose to get dogs and people who don't", said Dr Bradshaw.

A single dog owner is likely the only person who regularly walks and interacts with her pet, which could contribute to these individuals' reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and death, according to the study.

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The decrease was strongest in people who lived alone. Among canine owners, those who had terriers, retrievers, and scent hounds had lower rates of cardiovascular disease than owners of other dog breeds But the statistical tie might have more to do with the lifestyles that those kinds of dog owners have, where they live-out in the country, rather than the city, say-and other factors, rather than anything specific to the actual breed of the dog.

"Another interesting finding was that owners to dogs from breed groups originally bred for hunting were most protected", Mubanga added.

The findings, published Friday in the journal Scientific Reports, are based on data from more than 3.4 million Swedes between the ages of 40 and 80.

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"The responsibilities associated with dog ownership impose mandatory daily exercise - a schedule which can not be impacted by adverse weather conditions, personal commitments or mood swings", Wolf-Klein said.

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. 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.

"We know that dog owners in general have a higher level of physical activity, which could be one explanation to the observed results", said Fall. We've known for a while that you live longer when you live with someone else, but the added benefit of having a dog is that they need to get outside and go for walks, which forces us to get up and take them no matter how exhausted we are or what the weather is like. "The primary reason to adopt a dog or any other pet should be to give that dog or pet a loving home and to not do it just thinking that okay, I have a dog and now I'm going to be healthier".

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Another possible explanation, he adds, could be a dog's effect on its owner's microbiome.

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