Owning A Dog Cuts Your Chances Of Dying By 24 Percent

Mount Sinai endocrinologist Dr. Caroline Kramer, who is the lead author in an impressive new study analyzing the effects of 70 years of global research of dog ownership on health, says that having a dog reduces your chance of dying from any cause.

The study published in the journal Circulation in October of 2019, involved almost 4 million people in the US, Canada, New Zealand, Australia and UK and Scandinavia.

Some of the most interesting findings from the study were:

~ Dog ownership is associated with a 24% reduction death from any cause

~ People who had already had a heart attack or stroke had a 31% reduced risk of dying from cardiovascular disease

In a separate study from Sweden, also published in the same issue of Circulation, looked at the effect of dog ownership on 336,000 Swedish women and men. Study results indicated that those people who had suffered a serious health event such as a stroke or heart attack and owned a dog, did better than those who had the same diseases but did not have a dog. 

Even more intriguing was the finding that those people who lived alone and who had suffered a cardiovascular event such as a heart attack or stroke got the greatest benefit, with a 33 percent lower risk of death for the heart patients and a 27 percent lower risk of death for the stroke patients.

Researchers speculate as to why this may be the case and propose such reasons as the dog’s presence helps to reduce feeling of isolation and loneliness and that dog owners get more exercise. They point to evidence that even petting a dog can reduce blood pressure readings, in some cases just as effectively as medications!

In any case, dog owners don’t have to read a research study to know that being with their beloved canine companions makes them feel good. But it’s nice to know that the research backs that up!

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By Ellen Britt

Dr. Ellen Britt has loved dogs since she was a child. She is particularly fond of the Northern breeds, especially Alaskan Malamutes. Ellen worked as a PA in Emergency and Occupational Medicine for two decades and holds a doctorate (Ed.D.) in biology.

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