I took exactly the amount of science classes that the state of Texas requires for all college graduates, which was more than enough for me. Still, I’m not quite a “scientist,” per se. But when I saw this little study in the journal Circulation on how dogs help people live longer...I thought, yeah OK guy, I, a non-scientist, could’ve told you that!!
Think about how you feel when in proximity to a nice dog. You probably feel pretty good! Hard to pick just one reason why dogs bring so much joy: there’s that tickly, cold feeling when they push their noses against you; the way they look at you like, hey, I love you; that fuzzy, soft spot between their eyes…so much good within a dog. To me, it’s easy to see how a dog might make you happier and want to be alive longer...just to spend more time with the dog.
But scientists can’t help but do their thing, I suppose, and so they took a look at nearly 70 years of published research to see if there’s a link between dog ownership and mortality. What they found is unsurprising: According to data from six studies published between 1950 and 2019, dog ownership was associated with a 24 percent risk reduction for death. That decreased mortality risk was even more pronounced among people with previous cardiovascular problems.
All of this is a fancy, science-way of saying that dogs appear to help people live longer, especially people with heart issues. A separate study, also published Tuesday in Circulation, builds upon this great news even more. Researchers found that people had better health outcomes after having a stroke or cardiovascular event if they had a dog.
Scientists will tell you that owning a dog is good because it encourages owners to take walks and play, and because companionship is generally good for you. I buy that. But also, if you put a really good dog in front of me, I’d stick around as long as possible to keep playing with it. That may not be science, but it *is* common sense!
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This article originally appeared on VICE US.