Owning a Dog Linked to Lowering Your Risk of Dying Early

Want to extend your life? Get a dog!

Certain studies suggest dogs provide companionship and affection that can reduce anxiety and depression. That’s ideal after a major illness, such as a heart attack or stroke.

The review of the health benefits of dogs analyzed research involving nearly 4 million people in the United States, Canada, Scandinavia, New Zealand, Australia and the United Kingdom.

“Our analysis found having a dog is actually protective against dying of any cause,” said Mount Sinai endocrinologist Dr. Caroline Kramer, lead author of a new systematic review of nearly 70 years of global research published Tuesday in “Circulation,” a journal of the American Heart Association.

Another study of more than 336,000 Swedish men and women, also published Tuesday in “Circulation,” also found people who owned dogs had better health outcomes after suffering a major cardiovascular event such as heart attack or stroke.

“Dog ownership was associated with a 24% reduction in all cause mortality,” said Kramer. “The meta-analysis found an even bigger benefit for people who had already had a heart attack or stroke. For those people, having a dog was even more beneficial. They had a 31% reduced risk of dying from cardiovascular disease,” Kramer continued.

The bad news is both studies were observational, meaning they can’t prove that dog ownership was the direct cause of the increased life expectancy or better health outcomes after heart attack and stroke.

The American Heart Association points to studies that found pet owners who walk their dogs got up to 30 minutes more exercise a day.”There are studies suggesting that individuals who have dogs have a better cholesterol profile and lower blood pressure,” said Kramer.

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