Dog owners have a lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease or other causes, according to a recent study.
A team of Swedish scientists has used national registries of more than 3.4 million Swedes aged 40 to 80 to study the association between dog ownership and cardiovascular health.
Their study showed that dog owners had a lower risk of death due to cardiovascular disease or to other causes during the 12-year follow-up.
A total of more than 3.4 million individuals without any prior cardiovascular disease in 2001 were included in the researchers' study linking together seven different national data sources, including two dog ownership registers. The goal was to determine whether dog owners had a different risk of cardiovascular disease and death than non-dog owners.
"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. Perhaps a dog may stand in as an important family member in the single households. The results showed that single dog owners had a 33% reduction in risk of death and 11% reduction in risk of myocardial infarction during follow-up compared to single non-owners. Another interesting finding was that owners to dogs from breed groups originally bred for hunting were most protected," said lead junior author Mwenya Mubanga from the Uppsala University.
"There might also be differences between owners and non-owners already before buying a dog, which could have influenced our results, such as those people choosing to get a dog tending to be more active and of better health. Thanks to the population-based design, our results are generalisable to the Swedish population, and probably also to other European populations with similar culture regarding dog ownership," said senior author Tove Fall.
The results are being published for the first time in Scientific Reports.