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Owning a Dog Tied to Lowering Your Risk of Dying Early by 24%

Pets do lead to good health! We've been saying this forever but now we have very good news for dog owners thanks to recent studies. Owning a dog CAN actually help you live longer.

The AHA Journal revealed the research from two studies this week and the findings are fascinating. What if you actually have a heart attack or stroke? Does owning a dog help you live longer despite these terrible cardiovascular events?

"Dog ownership is associated with increased physical activity levels and increased social support, both of which could improve the outcome after a major cardiovascular event. Dog ownership may be particularly important in single-occupancy households where ownership provides substitutive companionship and motivation for physical activity."

We talk a lot about how dogs help with social isolation and depression. So now we know that dogs get you outside walking and you're motivated to do this more often than you might be without a canine best friend.

The data we're all talking about? 

"Dog ownership was associated with a 24% risk reduction for all-cause mortality as compared to nonownership with 6 studies demonstrating significant reduction in the risk of death."

What the study tells us 

  • Physical activity and psychosocial support have been shown to be important for optimal recovery after a major cardiovascular event.
  • Dog ownership has been shown to be associated with increased physical activity levels and increased social support.
  • Some smaller studies have pointed to a lower risk of death after a cardiovascular event in dog owners, but other studies have not replicated this finding.
  • In this large register-based cohort study, we found evidence of an association of dog ownership with better outcomes after a major cardiovascular event independent of measured socioeconomic variables and comorbidities at admission.

These are found in the journal, Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes.

So what have we learned? These studies showed us that owning a dog helps us get outside. They keep us active. Would you be watching Netflix all day if you didn't have a dog? I would likely be spending way too much time inside during the rainy months here in the Pacific Northwest so I'm grateful for my two hounds!

Pet ownership leads to better mental health and we've all known this for years. Just petting your cat or dog helps lower your blood pressure. Hopefully, they'll continue to do studies that focus on the health benefits as many heart attack survivors and stroke survivors may need to make sure they adopt a new best friend after they start on the path of recovery.

Man's best friend just earned himself another reason to be living with you and not in a shelter. Wouldn't it be great if this was a major motivator for older folks to adopt a senior dog to keep them company? This new study should be sent around and I already emailed it to my parents as they think they're just 'too busy' when I know a small dog would help ensure they have better health moving forward before some major health crisis occurs.

The journal simply reinforces that canine companions will benefit anyone with heart issues! We are so grateful for the studies now being done on how animals make our lives better.

If you're a dog person you should obviously have this front doormat. What a great conversation starter!

Do you own a dog - are you going to adopt one now? Please let us know in the comments. 

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