If you’re a dog owner, have you always suspected that the extra exercise you get from walking your canine companion is making you more healthier than your non dog owning friends and family? If so then we’ve got some good news for you…
A study of 3.4 million Swedes has found that dog owners have a lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease or other causes. The research team looked at details for people aged 40 to 80, and compared them to the details of people of the same age who owned dogs. They found there was a lower risk of cardiovascular disease among the dog owners, particularly if their dog was a hunting breed.
However, while owning a dog might help us get more physical activity, researchers said it may be active people in the first place who choose to own dogs. They also said that owning a dog may protect people from cardiovascular disease by increasing their social contact or well being.
Another strange theory they came up with is that dogs may change their owner’s ‘bacterial microbiome’, which is the collection of microscopic species that live in the gut. It is suspected that a dog may influence its owner’s microbiomes because they change the dirt in home environments, exposing people to bacteria they may not have encountered any other way.
The researchers also said that dogs give a protective element to those people who live by themselves. The lead author of the study, Mwenya Mubanga, said “The results showed that single dog owners had a 33% reduction in risk of death and 11% reduction in risk of heart attack compared to single non-owners”.
Dr Mike Knapton of the British Heart Foundation says: “Owning a dog is associated with reduced mortality and risk of having heart disease. Previous studies have shown this association but have not been as conclusive – largely due to the population size studied here. Dog ownership has many benefits, and we may now be able to count better heart health as one of them”.
He concluded: “However, as many dog owners may agree, the main reason for owning a dog is the sheer joy. Whether you’re a dog owner or not, keeping active is a great way to help improve your heart health”.
What do you think of the results of this new study? If you’re a dog owner, make sure that you encourage your non dog owning friends to perhaps think about purchasing a dog for themselves. Just remember that a dog is for life, not just to lessen your risk of cardiovascular disease!
Watch the video report below:
(Video Credit: ABC7)