Having a dog may reduce risk of heart disease, death — study | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022

Image: INQUIRER.net stock photo
INQUIRER.net stock photo

Swedish researchers have found an association between dog ownership and the reduction of cardiovascular-related diseases among adults.

According to a statement from the Uppsala University in Sweden regarding the study, single adults who owned dogs had a 33 percent lower risk of death. At the same time, these adults had an 11 percent lower chance of contracting a cardiovascular disease compared to singles with no dogs.

The study has been published online on Nature’s Scientific Reports journal under the title “Dog ownership and the risk of cardiovascular disease and death – a nationwide cohort study”.

“A very interesting finding in our study was that dog ownership was especially prominent as a protective factor in persons living alone, which is a group reported previously to be at higher risk of cardiovascular disease and death than those living in a multi-person household,” said Mwenya Mubanga, lead junior author of the study and PhD student at the Department of Medical Sciences and the Science for Life Laboratory, Uppsala University.

The researchers drew data from a sample of 3.4 million individuals through seven different national data sources. Two of which were dog ownership registers. The study also noted that these individuals had no prior cardiovascular disease in 2001.

But the study did not delve into the reasons as to why dog ownership had such an effect on individuals.

“We know that dog owners in general have a higher level of physical activity, which could be one explanation to the observed results. Other explanations include an increased well-being and social contacts or effects of the dog on the bacterial microbiome in the owner,” says Tove Fall, senior author of the study and associate professor in epidemiology at the university. “Dogs may be beneficial in reducing cardiovascular risk in their owners by providing social support and motivation for physical activity.“

While scientists continue to study how dogs or pets in general affect humans, it may be comforting for dog owners to know that their furry friends may have helped them get one step farther away from a heart attack — at least until the doggos rip out the couch or drool over mom’s best shoes. Alfred Bayle/JB


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