Life

Woof to this! Owning a dog might help you live longer

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Megan Murray
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Not that we needed it, but we’ve just discovered another reason to love dogs

Those adorable puppy dog eyes, the unconditional love they have for their owners and even, especially if you’re a sausage dog, their ability to pull off a particularly fabulous pregnancy photo shoot (this one has to be seen to be believed, trust us).

But if you’re looking for another reason to give those cute bundles of fur some more attention, we think you wil find this recent study very interesting.

BBC News reports that a study by Sweden’s Uppsala University found that those who own a dog could actually live longer than those who don’t.

That’s right people, the subject of cuddling puppies is actually life or death stuff.

The team came to their conclusion by analysing the national registries for dog-less people aged 40 to 80 and comparing them to the registries of people in the same age bracket, but who own a canine. The study surveyed 3.4 million Swedes.

Researchers looked at data from 2001 (the year that dog ownership registration became mandatory) to 2012, and found there were a whole host of health benefits to owning a dog, from reducing cardiovascular disease to having a healthier gut. 

What’s better than one dog? Two, of course!

This isn’t the first study that shows owning a dog is good for your health. Research published earlier this year found that dog-owners walk on average 22 minutes more a day. This amount of activity counts as ‘moderate exercise’ which is needed to keep us healthy, and no doubt helps combat cardiovascular disease.

Commenting on the study carried out by Uppsala University, lead study author Mwenya Mubanga says, “Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death worldwide, accounting for 45% of all deaths in Europe in 2016.

“Dogs may be beneficial in reducing cardiovascular risk by providing a non-human form of social support and increasing physical activity.

“Results showed that single dog owners had a 33% reduction in risk of death and 11% reduction in risk of heart attack.”

This is further backed up by a review of all available studies by the American Heart Association (AHA) which found that dog owners seem to have a better cholesterol profile, lower blood pressure, be less vulnerable to the physical effects of stress and be more likely to survive a heart attack.

The AHA report also finds that pet ownership can protect against cardiovascular disease, with the expert panel concluding that owning a dog in particular was “probably associated” with a reduced risk of heart disease.

And they called it puppy love…

And it’s not only the upper half of your body that can benefit from spending time with woman’s best friend - your gut gets a good deal, too. Mubanga’s team also reports that because of the different types of dirt that dogs bring into our homes they’re able to expose us to new bacteria. Adapting to these new bacteria can change the bacterial microbiome in our gut and strengthen our digestive health.

All ready to buy your first pooch? Consider adopting a rescue dog or puppy and visit centres such as Dogs Trust, Battersea Dogs & Cats Home and RSPCA, or look up your local shelter.

Images: Adam Griffith / Jennifer Regnier / iStock

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Megan Murray

Megan Murray is a digital journalist for stylist.co.uk, who enjoys writing about London happenings, beautiful places, delicious morsels and generally spreading sparkle wherever she can.

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