Though it might go without saying that dogs force people to stay fitter than the general population by tricking them into going on daily walks, a new study from Sweden published in Journal Scientific Report suggests dogs’ health benefits to humans extend well beyond a little extra fitness.
Read more from the Scientific Reports here: (https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-017-16118-6)
The study claims that are owning a dog:
- Decreases your risk of death by 33%
- Decreases your risk of cardiovascular-related death by 36%
- Decreases your chance of having a heart attack by 11%
The above numbers are the results for people who live alone with a dog, but even those who live with other people (and a dog) saw significantly positive results. Specifically, they experience an 11% decrease risk of death and a 15% decrease risk of cadiovascular-related death, says the study.
Also according to the research, the canines with the most powerful protection abilities to humans are hunting breeds, including terriers, retrievers and scent hounds.
Ok, so what was the method behind these somewhat insane-sounding results?
Researchers examined more than 3.4 million Swedes between the ages of 40 and 80 over a 12-year period. After the 12 year period finished, dog owners saw significantly lower mortality rates, as well as less heart attacks, than the general population. Dog owners also reported less stress, had better immune systems and scored higher on the social well-being scale.
Some theories as to why include:
- Dog owners live a healthier lifestyle, including spending more time outside and getting more physical activity from walks and other forms of exercise with their pups.
- Companionship and love from your dog helps contribute to an increase in social well-being and decrease in stress and feelings of loneliness.
- Dogs help strengthen your immune system because there seems to be a link between the bacteria found in a dog’s saliva and our immune system. Essentially their bacteria works like a probiotic, helping you develop healthier bacteria colonies that boost your immune system.
We knew we were onto something by being a dog-friendly community!