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Dog Owners Live Longer, Are Better People

Turns out companionship (and walking) is good for your heart.

by Katherine Gillespie
21 November 2017, 7:00am

A handsome dog owner. Courtesy of Shutterstock

New research from Uppsala University provides yet more compelling evidence that dog ownership is one of two, maybe three, aspects of modern life that remains pure and good. The study, published in Nature, shows that dog owners both live longer and are at a decreased risk of cardiovascular disease.

Swedish scientists took into account data from more than three million individuals aged between 40 and 80 in order to find out whether dog owners had higher or lower mortality rates than non-dog owners. Even owners with no other love in their life showed a marked advantage—those with dogs clocking a 33 percent reduction in risk of death and an 11 percent reduction in risk of cardiovascular disease compared to single non-dog owners.

"A very interesting finding in our study was that dog ownership was especially prominent as a protective factor in persons living alone, which is a group reported previously to be at higher risk of cardiovascular disease and death than those living in a multi-person household. Perhaps a dog may stand in as an important family member in the single households,” the study’s lead author Mwenya Mubanga said in an accompanying media release.

The study also showed that larger breeds of dog are more beneficial than smaller breeds—something I have been arguing for a long time. According to the data, owners of larger dogs that were originally bred for hunting purposes were more protected from disease. Although the study doesn't indicate what aspect of dog ownership improves human health, the scientists do speculate that all the walking has something to do with it.

“We know that dog owners in general have a higher level of physical activity, which could be one explanation to the observed results. Other explanations include an increased well-being and social contacts or effects of the dog on the bacterial microbiome in the owner," said another study author, Tove Fal.

"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,” Fal added.

So there it is: get a dog, you lazy piece of shit. They’re nice and they’re cute and they are, frankly, cheaper than therapy.

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