Having a dog might just save your life, study says

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Your dog could be literally saving your life.

A dog can decrease the risk of death by 33 percent and the risk of cardiovascular-related death by 36 percent for people who live alone versus singles without a pet.

A single dog owner is likely the only person who regularly walks and interacts with her pet, which could contribute to these individuals' reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and death, according to the study.

Those in multi-person households had an overall risk of death that was 11 percent lower than non-dog-owners, and a 15 percent lower risk of cardiovascular death.

When it came to breeds, canines originally bred for hunting-like terriers, retrievers and scent hounds-were associated with a lower risk of CVD.

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.

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Dog owners were more likely to be younger than non-owners, Fall and colleagues wrote, and were more likely to live in rural areas.

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.

"These kind of epidemiological studies look for associations in large populations but do not provide answers on whether and how dogs could protect from cardiovascular disease". The investment, though, may be worth it. Dog ownership, new research shows, is a form of natural insurance offering health and longevity, along with the affection of an animal companion.

Senior author Professor Tove Fall, said: 'We know dog owners in general have a higher level of physical activity, which could be one explanation to the observed results'.

The findings also suggest increased social well-being and immune system development as additional reasons why dog ownership offers protection against cardiovascular disease and death. They are. But a new study out of Sweden shows that not only do dogs add joy to our lives, they also add years to it.

"There might also be differences between owners and non-owners already before buying a dog, which could have influenced our results, such as those people choosing to get a dog tending to be more active and of better health".

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