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Having a Dog Significantly Lowers Your Risk of Death, Scientists Say

12 October 2019

Cats may have nine lives, but owning a dog may extend yours, a Toronto researcher says. Compared to non-owners, people with dogs had a 24% reduced risk of all-cause mortality, a 65% reduced risk of dying from a heart attack, a 31% reduced risk of mortality due to cardiovascular-related medical conditions.

The clinician scientist noted that her team's analysis didn't account for variables that may explain the difference in health outcomes between dog owners and the rest of the population. However, a recent study proves just that, concluding that having a dog is associated with a decreased risk of death-especially after a cardiovascular event. "Previous studies have indicated that dog owners experience less social isolation and have more interaction with other people", said Tove Fall, D.

"Having a dog was associated with increased physical exercise, lower blood pressure levels and better cholesterol profile in previous reports", said Dr.

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"People who lived with a dog actually had less mortality than people living alone who didn't have a dog", said Gulati, who was not involved in either study.

More specifically, heart attack survivors living alone who owned a dog had a 33 percent lower risk compared to those living alone who did not own a dog. As any canine owner knows, a dog is a great motivator to get out of the house and go for a walk.

"People who had a heart attack prior to getting a dog had even more reduction in mortality", said lead author Dr Caroline Kramer, an assistant professor of medicine at the University of Toronto, Canada.

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While having a four-legged friend is good for all, the analysis found those who already suffered a heart attack or stroke may benefit the most from a companion animal. "As such, the findings that people who owned dogs lived longer and their risk for cardiovascular death was also lower are somewhat expected". This is significantly more than the recommended 150 minutes per week for people. "Furthermore, keeping a dog is a good motivation for physical activity, which is an important factor in rehabilitation and mental health".

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, studies show dogs decrease stress and promote relaxation and impact almost all stages of our lives. One of the larger studies included in the review controlled for a variety of socio-economic and demographic factors and found that the longevity effect of dog ownership remained. In one, a neighborhood of cardiac patients who had been randomly suggested to manufacture a dog or a cat showed a diminished blood stress response to tense scenarios.

Still, Kazi writes, the balance of the evidence to date convinces him that "the association between dog ownership and improved survival is real, and is likely at least partially causal".

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Having a Dog Significantly Lowers Your Risk of Death, Scientists Say