Study: Dogs Make Your Heart Happy and Healthier
New research from Sweden continues to confirm the belief that having a dog doesn’t just make your heart happy, but makes it healthier, too!
A study by scientists at Uppsala University in Sweden looked at Swedish citizens who were between the ages of 40 and 80 from 2001 to 2012, and found that in dog owners, the mortality rate from cardiovascular disease was about 20% lower than the general population.
The researchers took people with prior cardiovascular issues and hospitalizations out, and study co-author Tove Fall says that they believe the biggest correlation for this is that dog owners get more exercise, and consistently at that. Fall is an associate professor of epidemiology and says that study after study shows that dog owners get consistent, even daily physical exercise because of walks or playing with their dogs, and this study shows that dog ownership also brings heart benefits as well.
He also said that they found health benefits for dog owners who were single when compared to single people who were not dog owners. Saying that research has shown that single people have shorter lifespans than those in families, single people who owned dogs seemed to have a neutralizing effect on their decreased lifespan, as if the dog was a substitute for a human family member. He concedes that it could also be that single dog owners end up doing all the exercise necessary when owning a dog, and that increases their lifespans, but he believes that there is also the benefit of more social interaction than single people who don’t have dogs.
Related: New Research Shows Dogs Help Their Humans Live Longer
According to the research, the owners of retrievers and pointers had the lowest risks of heart disease, and Fall believes this also could be because those dogs typically require lots of exercise and outdoor activity.
This research has also inspired additional research in the field of bereavement when a pet dies. Fall says that it is a very big deal when a pet dies, particularly if the owner was single, and doctors and society need to understand this importance, and its role in cardiovascular health as well.