Based on data from a study, British pet owners allegedly reduce early death rates by as much as 36 percent.
The connection between dogs and decreased risk of premature death
Researchers from Uppsala University, Sweden, studied health records and dog ownership information from seven registries on individuals aged 40 to 80 with no history of heart disease. The study’s participants were observed between January 1, 2001 and December 31, 2012, or until they died, if this occurred earlier.
Lead junior author Mwenya Mubanga said, “A very interesting finding in our study was 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 than those living in a multi-person household…Perhaps a dog may stand in as an important family member in the single households.” (Related: Pets Can Improve Your Health and Aid in Recovery.)
Professor Tove Fall, the study’s senior author, shared that singles who owned dogs may walk more and have increased interaction with others because of their pets. She adds that while research has long associated dog ownership with good health, this study is 100 times larger than any previous trial.
Since dog owners in general have a higher level of physical activity, this could be one of the reasons behind the observed results. Other explanations could be “an increased well-being and social contacts” or the dog’s effects on the bacterial microbiome (gut bacteria) of the owner. She adds that dogs can help reduce cardiovascular risk by being “a non-human form of social support and increasing physical activity.”
She also mentioned that dog ownership is linked to easing the feeling of social isolation and an improved perception of well-being, especially in singles and the elderly. Fall added, “One mechanism by which dog ownership could reduce cardiovascular disease risk and mortality is by alleviating psychosocial stress factors, such as social isolation, depression and loneliness — all reportedly lower in dog owners…These factors have been linked to increased risk of coronary heart disease, cardiovascular death, and all cause mortality.”
Data from the Campaign to End Loneliness reveals that almost 1.1 million people aged over 65 in the United Kingdom are chronically lonely and are at risk of developing heart disease and dementia. Heart disease causes more than a quarter of all deaths in the U.K., including around 42,000 fatalities in individuals under 75. Meanwhile, heart disease is the leading cause of death worldwide and it accounted for 45 percent (more than four million) of fatalities in Europe in 2016.
In October, Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners, said that social isolation and loneliness is”akin to a chronic long-term condition” when it comes to the terms of its impact on patients’ health and well-being.
Stokes concluded, “GPs see patients, many of whom are widowed, who have multiple health problems like diabetes, hypertension, and depression, but often their main problem isn’t medical — they are lonely.”
Research results have determined that lonely people have a 50 percent higher risk of early death compared to those with good social links, proving that loneliness is as deadly as obesity or out of control smoking habits.
The other benefits of keeping dogs as pets
Aside from decreasing the risk of premature death, taking care of pets also offers other benefits:
- Pets are great friends. Domesticated animals can be some of the best friends that you make. They are playful, and pets can be an endless source of love and friendship.
- Pets can boost your mood. Simply playing with a pet after a long day at work can help improve your mood.
- Pets can teach children about responsibility. When kids have pets, you can teach them how to be responsible for another being by letting them feed or bathe your dog.
You can read more articles about pets and pet health at NaturalNewsPets.com.