Dog ownership linked with longer life, especially for heart patients

It's not just cats and dogs. Studies find health benefits for owners of all kinds of pets including birds hamsters gerbils fish snakes... and even bugs. One study found nursing home residents who cared for cockroaches were less depressed after

It's not just cats and dogs. Studies find health benefits for owners of all kinds of pets including birds hamsters gerbils fish snakes... and even bugs. One study found nursing home residents who cared for cockroaches were less depressed after

Increased physical activity plays a key role in the cardiovascular benefits of dog ownership, said Kramer, noting that her own step count has climbed "sky high" since she adopted Romeo, an energetic miniature schnauzer that she walks at least three times a day.

"People who had a heart attack prior to getting a dog had even more reduction in mortality", said lead author Dr.

Owning a dog reduced a heart attack patient's risk of death by 33% if they live alone, and 15% if they live with a partner or child, according to data from the Swedish National Patient Register.

"We've known this forever, that pets make our lives better, but to know that the sum of it translates to better cardiovascular health is very exciting for those of us who like dogs and work in cardiology", Kazi said in a phone interview.

Dog owners who lived alone were 33 percent less likely to die after leaving hospital compared with those who didn't have a pooch, dropping to 15 percent if the individual had a partner or child at home.

Man's best friend has always been praised for the ability to help mental wellbeing, reducing anxiety and loneliness, but less has been reported about how dogs might have a positive effect on physical health.

In the press release, Tove Fall, a professor at Uppsala University and one of the researchers on the first study, pointed to social isolation as a "strong risk factor for worse health outcomes and premature death".

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"And we think those are important factors contributing to the overall health of the patient, particularly after a heart attack and stroke", said Dr. Sunil Advani, Indiana Heart Physicians.

Dog owners can take heart from new research about the possible health benefits of having a dog. However, more research is needed to confirm a causal relationship and giving recommendations about prescribing dogs for prevention. "Moreover, from an animal welfare perspective, dogs should only be acquired by people who feel they have the capacity and knowledge to give the pet a good life". Caroline Kramer, an assistant professor of medicine at the University of Toronto, Canada.

"As such, the findings that people who owned dogs lived longer and their risk for cardiovascular death was also lower are somewhat expected", she said.

Nine of these studies included comparison of death outcomes for dog owners and non-owners, and four compared cardiovascular outcomes for dog owners and non-owners.

Those who had suffered cardiovascular-related issues were also 31 per cent less likely to pass away.

The clinician scientist noted that her team's analysis didn't account for variables that may explain the difference in health outcomes between dog owners and the rest of the population. "As a pet owner myself, I can say that adopting Romeo (the author's miniature Schnauzer) has increased my steps and physical activity each day, and he has filled my daily routine with joy and unconditional love".

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