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Hale and hearty life due to pet dogs

A dog is known as a man’s best friend. But did you know this friend can help humans live a little longer? Here are the details.

A new study finds that owning a dog slashes the risk of suffering premature death by a third.

A landmark study of more than 3.4 million older people found Britain’s favorite pet reduces the likelihood of heart disease and combats loneliness.

Older people who live alone are 33 percent less likely to die over the next 12 years if they have a dog, according to a Swedish study.

The biggest impact is on heart disease, the world’s greatest killer, with owning Britain’s favorite pet reducing early deaths rates by a staggering 36%, the research adds. 
According to researchers, pets also help to lower loneliness, which has been described as ‘akin to a chronic long-term condition’ and linked to disorders including heart disease and dementia.

As well as offering companionship and boosting non-human interactions, dogs also encourage their owners to exercise via walks

Dogs may also strengthen humans’ gut bacteria, according to the researchers, which has previously been linked to a stronger immune system and maintaining a healthy weight.

Hunting breeds such as Golden Retrievers, Irish Setters, and Beagles achieved the best results.

The research was conducted by the Uppsala University, Sweden, and analyzed health records and dog ownership information from seven registries on individuals aged between 40 and 80 with no history of heart disease.

Senior author Professor Tove Fall, from Uppsala University in Sweden, said single owners may walk their dog more and have increased interaction compared to members of a family.

He said research has long associated dog ownership with good health but this was 100 times bigger than any previous study of its kind.

But as it was an observational study it does not prove dogs prevent cardiovascular disease or how it may happen.

Prof. Fall said: “We know dog owners, in general, have a higher level of physical activity, which could be one explanation for the observed results.

“Other explanations include an increased wellbeing and social contacts or effects of the dog on the bacterial microbiome (gut bacteria) in the owner.”

The findings were published in the journal Scientific Reports.

Man’s best friend is the most popular pet in the UK, with 24% of people owning a dog.


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