Owning A Dog Means Longer Life, Study Finds

Written by: Bojana Radulovic
Dogs are known for understanding a lot of tricks, and apparently, they know one more - how to make humans live longer! The recent study shows that with a dog around diseases will keep away. Read on to explore findings on how dogs can ease stroke and heart attack chances.

Big news for dog lovers: you will live longer. As it turned out, your furry bundle of joy could actually extend your life. According to a study published by Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes, and later peer-reviewed journal of the American Heart Association, owning a dog is tightly linked with living longer.

Dog Ownership And Survival

The study showed that dog ownership is directly linked with decreased cardiovascular risk. Actually, the study showed that dog ownership can help dog owners survive several health conditions, resulting in:

  • lower blood pressure levels
  • improved lipid profile
  • diminished sympathetic responses to stress

This meta-analysis looked at studies published from 1950 to May 2019 that evaluated dog ownership and its association to mortality. In addition, the research included 10 that provide data from more than 3 million participants. With all gathered data, scientists concluded that dog owners had a 24% risk reduction for death from any cause.

Study was done so thoroughly that a systematic review and meta-analysis was performed to evaluate ‘an association of dog ownership with all-cause mortality‘ and it was determined that dog owners had a 24% risk reduction for death from any cause, according to the study.

Owning A Dog Leads To Better Health?

Long story short, yes. People have been asking for a long time if having a dog really improves their health. Now, we finally know for sure.

Owning a dog has a massive attack on human physical and mental health, as well as on social health, and well being. Even more, dog owners in the study tend to have significantly ”better outcome after a major cardiovascular event” and the reason for this could be due to an increase in physical activity and even a strong decrease in depression and loneliness among dog owners, which previous studies have confirmed.

People who lived alone after a heart attack or even a stroke saw the greatest upside when compared to people who did not own a dog. Researchers found that ” dog owners had a 33% lower risk of death after being hospitalized a heart attack if they lived alone, and a 15% lower risk if they lived with a partner or child”, and these results were similar for those who were treated for a stroke.

Walking Matters

Having a dog and caring for a dog reduces social isolation and increases physical activity. By simply walking a dog 20 to 30 minutes a day, dog owners will accomplish the recommended weekly activity of 150 minutes of moderate exercise (recommended by the American Heart Association). All in, regular physical activity directly improved overall cardiovascular health.

Moreover, spending time with a dog and going for a regular and longer walks means that a better communication between a dog and human will be developed. Therefore, it’s important to acknowledge that dog ownership shouldn’t be taken for granted.

Just as the human brain evolved, the dog’s brain also went a long way, as well. According to a recent study dog’s brain evolved so much by spending time with humans. Moreover, it evolved so that they can better understand us, and so we can better understand them.

The findings within the study indicated that it’s not possible to prove if adopting a dog or owning a dog leads to reduced mortality or not. It has been proven many times that social isolation and lack of physical activity negatively impact patients, it’s stated by leading researchers that dog owners could have better cardiovascular outcomes than non-owners.

Responsibility Of Being A Dog Owner

It’s well known that any level of social isolation is a strong risk factor for worse health outcomes and even premature death. Therefore, having a dog is an important factor in rehabilitation and mental health. Moreover, from an animal welfare perspective, dogs should only be held by people who feel that they have the capacity and the right knowledge to provide the dog with a good life.

One of the co-authors, Caroline Kramer, is a dog owner and she advocates strongly that dog ownership should not be taken lightly, according to an email sent to USA TODAY. Kramer said that people should take into consideration all the “attention, proper feeding, walks” and other responsibilities entailed in pet ownership”, and this is probably a statement that every dog owner would agree upon.

The Benefits

The most appealing part of this study is that people who lived alone actually seem to receive the greatest benefit in both the stroke group and the heart attack group.

The study also brought up one interesting question: Are people feeling better because of a dog directly or because of dog-related behavior? Is it because dog owners exercise every day, or because they have a companion? and if people, in that case, Are wealthier or healthier? So far, these and similar questions are yet to be answered definitely.

The study also showed that dogs do influence, next to social, emotional and cognitive development in children, and that they definitely promote an active lifestyle. Plus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, dogs can promote relaxation and decrease stress in humans life. Moreover, they directly impact all stages of our lives. In addition, according to CDC dogs are capable of detecting oncoming epileptic seizures or even the presence of certain cancers.

The Final Say

People should always know that caring for a dog costs and takes time. Therefore, several people, especially the elderly, after a stroke or a heart attack (regardless of severity) are worrying that they won’t be able to take care of a pet. However, with a proper support system (including regular doctor check-ups) it is possible and safe to have a dog.

Kramer also said: “As a dog owner myself, I can say that adopting Romeo (the author’s Miniature Schnauzer) has increased my steps and physical activity each day, and he has filled my daily routine with joy and unconditional love.”