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Here's How Having A Dog Could Actually Add Years To Your Life

DECEMBER 1, 2017  —  By Sarah Jewel  
Sarah Jewel

Sarah Jewel

Animal and pizza lover with an Internet addiction. Nerd to the max. Currently residing in the land of beautiful winters.

You'll never see me anywhere arguing against the value of having and loving pets.

The minute I moved out of my parents' house and into my own place, I started plotting to get my very own fur baby. Not only are pets always there to listen when you've had a bad day, they can also keep you active on walks and show off their hilarious quirks that will keep you laughing all day long.

You may have heard that people with pets live longer lives, too. Scientists have been studying the reasons why for ages, and a recent study suggests that if you're a dog person you have a lot to celebrate. Here's how having a dog can add years to your life.

At Uppsala University in Sweden, scientists studied more than 3.4 million Swedes with no history of heart disease. Because all hospital visits in Sweden are linked to a personal identification number and all dogs are registered with the government, it created an ideal scenario for studying health and pups' effect on it.

The findings were really interesting. First, you were less at risk of dying of cardiovascular disease if you owned a purebred dog. Owners with mixed breeds had more mixed results.

They also studied the difference between multi-person houses and single people's houses, and the results suggest that dogs really are part of the family. In the homes with several people, cardiovascular risk declined by 11 percent. That number went up to 15 percent in single households.

“Perhaps a dog may stand in as an important family member in the single households," Mwenya Mubanga, lead junior author of the study and PhD student at the Department of Medical Sciences and the Science for Life Laboratory at Uppsala University, explained in a statement.

The scientist continued, "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."

These results don't explain why dog owners live longer, but the researchers have some ideas. Of course, there were limitations to the study regarding owners' health before buying the dog, but some hypotheses can still be drawn.

“We know that dog owners in general have a higher level of physical activity, which could be one explanation to the observed results,” Tove Fall, senior author of the study and associate professor in Epidemiology at the Department of Medical Sciences and the Science for Life Laboratory at Uppsala University, said in a statement.

“Other explanations include an increased well-being and social contacts or effects of the dog on the bacterial microbiome in the owner," Tove added.

(via IFL Science)

Overall, it seems like having a dog can really make a difference in your health, especially if you start taking long walks with your furry best friend. What do you think of the study? Sound off in the comments.

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