Though there are already a number of health benefits associated with having a dog, researchers have found another reason for you to get a furry friend (or two).
Dogs benefit your heart in more ways than one.
Dogs don’t really need proof that they’re great, but in case you need convincing, read on. Many people may think that dogs are needy furballs that you just take care of and pour resources into. They’re not really an investment, in that it’s unlikely that you’ll get a financial return for taking care of them. Thus, there really isn’t much to gain from taking care of a dog--or is there?
You may not see dogs as an investment, but they’re actually capable of benefiting your health in many ways. Dogs can help lower stress, decrease the risk of asthma in kids, and encourage their humans to be more active. A new study, has now also found that if you live alone, having a dog around may have more benefits than you may think.
Living alone can be a lot of fun, but it's even better with a dog.
One obvious benefit of having a dog if you live alone is having companionship. There’s something nice about waking up to another living, breathing thing, even though said living thing may sometimes make a mess on the living room floor. However, that’s not all you’ll get out of the deal. Researchers have also found that having a dog leads to better cardiovascular health in general, but especially if you live alone.
The researchers conducted a 12-year study that involved more than 3.4 million people in Sweden, all between the ages of 40 to 80. It turns out that in Sweden, each person’s hospital visits are entered into a database, where their health information is recorded anonymously. The researchers gleaned their data from this trove of information, then cross-referenced it with national dog registers. This way, they were able to make conclusions on the ways that having a dog can affect health.
"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, one of the researchers.
Live to a ripe old age with a dog by your side.
The results showed that people with dogs had a lower risk of dying of cardiovascular disease, as well as a lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease itself. The group with the strongest results, surprisingly, were people who lived alone. People who had dogs that were hunting breeds, like retrievers, had the lowest rates of cardiovascular disease. The researchers also found that if you’re single but you live with a dog, you’re 8% less likely to have cardiovascular issues compared to other single people who don’t live with a dog.
"The results showed that single dog owners had a 33 percent reduction in risk of death and 11 percent reduction in risk of myocardial infarction during follow-up compared to single non-owners," Mubanga continued.
The fact that dog owners tend to be more active may be one explanation for these results. It’s also possible that the dogs had a good effect on the bacterial microbiome of their humans. Whatever the case, however, this may help you decide whether or not to open your home to a new furry four-legged friend.
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