Are you one of the 44 percent of Americans with a dog? You have a lot of things to thank your pooch for, including getting a great night’s sleep. But as it turns out, man’s best friend isn’t just a great life companion; he (or she!) can also help you live longer, according to new research.
A study published in the journal Scientific Reports gathered data on 3.4 million subjects aged 40 to 80, comparing them to Swedish registers of dog owners over an 11-year period. Overall, owners of dogs (especially hunting breeds!) have a lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease or other causes, the researchers found.
That even goes for people who live alone, which a previous study has found could shorten your life. Single dog owners were 33 percent less likely to die and 11 percent less likely to have a heart attack during the study period, compared to single non-owners.
According to the researchers, the benefits can go both ways: While dog ownership can encourage people to be more physically active, active people may also be more likely to own dogs. Owning a dog might also increase peoples’ social interaction and overall wellbeing, leading to a longer life. What’s more, a family pooch could change the owner’s bacterial microbiome by exposing them to foreign bacteria, which boosts their immune systems against disease. Find out more secrets your pet won’t tell you.
“Dog ownership has many benefits, and we may now be able to count better heart health as one of them,” Dr. Mike Knapton of the British Heart Foundation told the BBC. “However, as many dog owners may agree, the main reason for owning a dog is the sheer joy.”
We couldn’t agree more! That’s not the only perk of having a pet, though. Here’s how they can make you smarter, stronger, and more resistant to stress.