Owning a dog is good for your heart — study says what we all knew

A new study says owning a dog can lower chances of developing heart problems. Getty Images

It seems unconditional love from a fluffy, drooling canine is one key to a healthier life — as many people already expected.

A study of more than 3.4-million people revealed that having a dog in the house is linked to living a longer life. The research, published in Scientific Reports by Uppsala University in Sweden, reviewed a national registry of people aged 40 to 80 for up to 12 years. Just over 13 per cent were dog owners.

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By evaluating health records, it found that registered dog owners had a lower risk of having heart attacks and other life-threatening conditions. It said owning a dog cuts down the risk of death from cardiovascular disease by 36 per cent for people that live alone.

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There is a slightly lower benefit to owning a canine for those who don’t live alone — the risk was cut by only 15 per cent. Researchers even considered other factors such as smoking and body weight to make sure the results were as accurate as possible.

While the study stops short of determining a direct “causal effect” between dog ownership and lower heart disease, it indicates that dog owners may have better health because they stay active by walking their pets, even in bad weather.

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It adds that having a fluffy friend could also help ease feelings of isolation, depression and stress.

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“Dog ownership is associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease in single households and with a reduced risk of cardiovascular and all-cause death in the general population,” the study concludes.

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And it’s just one of many studies that have come to a similar conclusion about the health benefits of owning a dog.

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Earlier this year, a study found that seniors who own a dog spend an average of 22 more minutes per day staying active and take an additional 2,760 steps per day.

Dogs have also been found to improve mental health in children, and help soothe stress for travellers nervous about their flight and students during exams.

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— With files from Global News reporter Tania Kohut

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