33 pc reduction? Your dog is protecting you from this disease
18 November, 2017, 01:11
"It's not so easy to combine dogs with an active work life and they aren't always allowed in places, so the study could help us to understand that dogs are really important for their owners, and for example be more understanding if someone's dog passes away".
Over the next 12 years, dog owners had a lower risk of death due to cardiovascular disease or other causes than those without a dog, according to the study's results. Especially for single people, "you have a different relationship" with your pet, Fall noted; it's something she felt herself.
The researchers reported that dog owners who lived alone were 11 percent less likely to die of heart disease and a third less likely to die from any cause, compared with those who lived alone and didn't have a dog.
Owners of hunting breeds, such as retrievers, scent hounds and terriers, were the most protected from cardiovascular disease and death.
The findings, published Friday in the journal Scientific Reports, are based on data from more than 3.4 million Swedes between the ages of 40 and 80.
"Other explanations include an increased well-being and social contacts or effects of the dog on the bacterial microbiome in the owner".
Dog ownership linked to living longer, study finds
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People living alone fared the best, as owning a dog decreased their risk of death by 33 percent and their likelihood of a cardiovascular-related death by 36 percent, when compared to single individuals who do not have a pet.
But it's also possible-and very likely, says senior author Tove Fall, a veterinarian and associate professor of epidemiology-that taking care of a dog prompts people to stay active and live a healthier lifestyle. "Thanks to the population-based design, our results are generalizable to the Swedish population, and probably also to other European populations with similar culture regarding dog ownership", Fall concluded in the statement.
"However, as many dog owners may agree, the main reason for owning a dog is the sheer joy. Lots of people think that nowadays we have poor diversity in microbiomes, and it might be that dogs have a positive effect on this by bringing in dirt and bacteria", Fall said.
Fall believes that while their study provides strong evidence for the health benefits of dogs, their work is not done yet, since it does not answer why dogs achieve these results or why specific breeds seems to offer more protection.
In addition, the researchers were hesitant to assert conclusively that the habits surrounding dog ownership lead to health. "More studies should be obtained in the United States", said Bond.
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