The biggest beneficiaries are single people. "Being a single has previously been reported as a risk factor for cardiovascular disease and it seems that a dog may be able to neutralize this over-risk", said Tove Fall, veterinarian and lecturer in epidemiology at the Department of Medical science at Uppsala University, in a statement. Little Fido also gives you some much-needed social interaction if you live alone. Single dog owners also had an 11 percent lower risk of suffering a heart attack.
Owners of hunting breeds, including terriers, retrievers, and scent hounds, were most protected from cardiovascular disease and death.
Researchers followed more than 3.4 million Swedish adults, ages 40 through 80, over a 12-year period to investigate their health in comparison with non-owners. "This study in particular, excluded patients with heart disease in general, and we know that disabled people may be less likely to own a dog so that really raises the question if owning a dog lead to heart health or is it merely a marker for people who are more likely to have good heart health", said Dr.
Researchers at Uppsala University reviewed data collected from 2001 to 2012 from seven different national registries, including the Swedish Agricultural Agency's dog owner's register and the Swedish Kennel Club's register, in addition to the Register of the Total Population, which contains information on birth, migration, changes of citizenship, civil status and death on all Swedish citizens and residents.
And how do dogs go about keeping one heart-healthy?
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No matter the breed, though, Fall and co-authors wrote dogs are repeatedly proven to have a positive health effect on those living with them. Other reasons might involve an increased well-being and social contacts or effects of the dog on the bacterial microbiome in the owner.
While Bond may not prescribe a dog as treatment for a patient, she said that she will not discourage owning or buying one, or expressing the benefits of owning one.
"Our observational study can not provide evidence for a causal effect of dog ownership on cardiovascular disease or mortality", they wrote.
Fall also adds that there may be slight differences between dog owners and non-owners well before any of the two groups were exposed to dogs, which could have influenced the results.
Scientists said the companionship was key, along with the physical activity in taking it for a walk.