Swedish scientists have just published a study in Scientific Reports that shows that dog owners have a lower risk of cardiovascular disease and overall risk of death than those who don’t have dogs. Surprisingly, one type of dog provided their owners with the best health benefits, which gives us a strong indication of why owning a dog helps prevent stroke, heart attack and other causes of death. In Sweden, it is compulsory to register yourself as a dog owner, and you also get a registration number when you visit a hospital.
With all this information easily available, researchers compared the hospital records of dog owners and non-owners over 12 years to see who was more likely to be hospitalized and die. Those who owned dogs originally bred for hunting, like retrievers and terriers, had the lowest risk of both heart disease and death. This indicates that owning a dog that needs a lot of exercise motivates you to go out for a long walk every day, which is one of the best things you can do for your heart.
However, this is not the only reason dogs are heart healthy.
Companionship has long been linked with good health. And what better companion than a loving dog?
Older studies, like one from the American Heart Association published in a 2013 edition of the Journal Circulation, reveals that dog owners get more exercise, have lower cholesterol, have lower blood pressure, respond to stress in a way that does not elevate their blood pressure, and have a better chance to survive after an acute heart event. Now having a dog is not for everyone and even if you do, it may not be enough to lower your blood pressure and cholesterol to a healthy level.