Get this dog and live longer, says new study

It turns out that dogs are truly man’s best friend. A very interesting finding in our study was that dog ownership was especially prominent as a protective factor in persons living alone

The study notes that a much smaller Norwegian study of the same subject, undertaken with similar methods, didn't show a link between dog ownership and lower mortality. It said owning a dog cuts down the risk of death from cardiovascular disease by 36 per cent for people that live alone.

Dog owners have a low risk of developing cardiovascular diseases that further enables them to reduce the risk of mortality, a new research confirmed. We know that dog owners in general have a higher level of physical activity, which could be one explanation for the observed results.

It's not clear exactly how the dogs helped avert heart disease, or whether getting one directly led to better health, cautioned Tove Fall, the senior author of the paper and associate professor in epidemiology at Uppsala University.

Researchers at Uppsala University in Sweden have posited the theory that this is due to the fact that dogs have the ability to change their owner's bacterial microbiome by exposing them to bacteria they had not yet encountered.

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Another small study found that people who walked dogs five times a week lost an average of 14.4 pounds over a year, which also helps heart health.

Hunting breeds such as Golden Retrievers, Irish Setters and Beagles achieved the best results.

The researchers put this down to the dogs acting as a "protective factor" - especially for people who live on their own.

Dr Mubanga said: "Perhaps a dog may stand in as an important family member in the single households". All were free of heart disease at the beginning of the study.

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According to the results, single dog owners had a 33% reduction in the risk of premature death and 11% reduction in the risk of cardiovascular disease when compared to single non-owners.

Cardiovascular disease causes more than a quarter (26 per cent) of all deaths in the United Kingdom 160,000 each year. Studies have also suggested that dog owners have lower reactivity to stress and faster recovery of blood pressure following stressful events.

"The responsibilities associated with dog ownership impose mandatory daily exercise - a schedule which can not be impacted by adverse weather conditions, personal commitments or mood swings", Wolf-Klein said. "Our observational study can not provide evidence for a causal effect of dog ownership on cardiovascular disease or mortality", they write.

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