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Owning A Dog Makes You Live Longer Studies Suggest

Patrick 9 Oct 2019

A study published on Tuesday claims that owning a dog is a strongly linked factor to a variety of health benefits, and ultimately to living longer!

The study was published by Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes, a journal of the American Heart Association.

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Yes, science has been at it again, with its various studies, claims, and big white coats full of tips and tricks which will either make you love something or hate it forever as it turns out it kills you!

Well, this time they've come out with a doozy, as it turns out having a furry little friend may actually massively lower your mortality rate.

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The study links dog ownership with "a 24% risk reduction for all-cause mortality"!

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This was compared to people who did not own dogs (obviously).

The study included over 3 million participants across Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Scandinavia, United Kingdom, and the United States, and was spearheaded by Dr. Caroline K. Kramer of the University of Toronto.

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Specifically, having a dog was found to be incredibly beneficial for those who had suffered a heart attack or stroke.

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Analysis of the data highlighted a "31% risk reduction" in the possibility of dying from cardiovascular disease, which is an incredible statistic!

This is also far from the first time that a study has linked owning a dog with massively increased health benefits for their owner.

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In fact, another study was published on the same day which supported the findings!

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On the same Tuesday, another study was published in the same academic journal which found that "In this study of 321 430 Swedish adults aged 40 to 85, dog ownership was associated with a lower risk of death after an acute myocardial infarction or ischemic stroke."

The health benefits were also particularly prominent in those who otherwise lived alone. The study proposed that "One potential explanation for this could be that dogs can provide psychosocial support in environments where human companionship is not available."

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The second study highlights the mental and physical benefits of dog ownership during stroke and heart attack recovery.

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Professor Tove Fall, from Uppsala University in Sweden, spoke to CNN about the significance of their findings and the benefits of dog ownership in people who would otherwise be living alone:

"We know that loneliness and social isolation are strong risk factors for premature death and our hypothesis was that the company of a pet can alleviate that.

"Single owners have to do all the dog walks and we know that physical activity is important in rehabilitation after a myocardial infarction or stroke."

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Dogs can not only help alleviate stress and depression, but help you to get more exercise.

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The actual figures of the studies published are only observational results. This means that while the studies strongly point towards a link, they may not definitely be able to say that the findings prove the correlation. However, the strong association between dog ownership is definitely important, and the health benefits are strongly advocated for by doctors everywhere!

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Doctors such as Dr. Suh, will actively recommend getting a dog to their patients.

Editor-in-chief of CardioSmart, a branch of the American College of Cardiology, Dr. Martha Gulati is a dog owner herself who strongly believes in the correlation between dog ownership and positive health benefits. Speaking again to CNN, she explained:

"I know a lot of my patients often say to me after they have a heart attack or stroke, can I even take care of a dog? They worry because they don't want to leave the dog alone if something happens to them.

"But if possible, I always encourage them to get a dog. Perhaps an older dog who needs to be rescued and not a puppy that will be harder to manage."

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Lots of people have responded positively to this story, sharing their own experiences in the area.

People like Jasmine Jensen above joined in the comments expressing how important elderly realtive's pets have been in their later life keeping them active. Also, if I might be permitted to add from personal experience, my grandfather's little Jack Russell has been instrumental in keeping him active and uplifted during periods of ill-health.

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It is also important to remember that a dog will not help with all of the factors contributing to ill-health.

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While having a dog may indeed help with certain health factors, it is not to be assumed that getting a dog will suddenly help with other factors such as diet, smoking, cholesterol etc. Unless, of course, you get a dog which judges you heavily whenever you order a pizza, or slaps a cigarette out of your hand every time you spark up — imagine how amazing that would be!

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Seriously though, how could that face not improve your quality of life?

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So, if you've been looking to convince your partner/parents to let you have a dog then this may be the article to sway them! Dr. Kramer who helmed the first article also thinks that maybe owning a dog could help younger children's health as well as those in later life:

"The overall understanding of cardiovascular health is that the earlier that we implement healthier behaviors, the better. So like walking, not smoking. And I think that maybe dog ownership is part of that."

So go on, get begging!

h/t: CNN

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