You could live longer if you had a dog

33 pc reduction? Your dog is protecting you from this disease

But it turns out, having a dog also has a major health benefit: It's good for your (literal) heart.

People in possession of a pooch were less likely to have cardiovascular disease or die from any cause during the 12 years covered by the study, according to the study published in Scientific Reports.

Fall also adds that there may be slight differences between dog owners and non-owners well before any of the two groups were exposed to dogs, which could have influenced the results.

"The results showed that single dog owners had a 33 per cent reduction in risk of death and 11 per cent reduction in risk of cardiovascular disease during follow-up compared to single non-owners". Little Fido also gives you some much-needed social interaction if you live alone.

The biggest impact was seen on cardiovascular disease, the world's biggest killer, with dog ownership reducing mortality rates by 36 percent.

"Dog ownership was especially prominent as a protective factor in persons living alone, which is a group reported previously to be at higher risk of cardiovascular disease and death", Mubanga said. So, is owning a dog connected to better health? These numbers are issued to every resident in Sweden, and are used to record hospital visits and dog ownership.

While it makes sense that owning a dog may encourage physical activity, and previous studies has shown that to be true, researchers say it's also possible that more active people choose to own dogs.

The dog is the most popular pet in the United Kingdom, with 24 percent of people owning one.

Tove Fall, senior author of the study, said there were some limitations: "These kind of epidemiological studies look for associations in large populations but do not provide answers on whether and how dogs could protect from cardiovascular disease".

"However, as many dog owners may agree, the main reason for owning a dog is the sheer joy". But their risk of a heart attack was not reduced by owning a dog. "Lots of people think that nowadays we have poor diversity in microbiomes, and it might be that dogs have a positive effect on this by bringing in dirt and bacteria", Fall said.

Owners of hunting breeds, such as retrievers, scent hounds and terriers, were the most protected from cardiovascular disease and death. "In warmer climates, they could keep them in the yard and won't have to actively take them for a walk", said Fall.

"Alternatively it could be reverse causality - people who are fitter and more active are more likely to own a dog".

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