It has been no secret that owning pets can be beneficial to health and wellbeing. However, there has been a recent study which found that having a dog can increase your life expectancy whilst reducing the chances of you getting cardiovascular disease.
The team that conducted the study which took into account 3.4 million swedes, found there was a lower risk of cardiovascular disease in owners of dogs, particularly of hunting breeds.
Owning dogs has been seen to help maintain or increase physical activity but how can they hep benefit your health as well?
Researchers say owning a dog may protect people from cardiovascular disease by increasing their social contact or wellbeing, or by changing the owner’s bacterial microbiome.
The microbiome is the gathering of microscopic species that live in the gut. It’s thought a dog may affect its owner’s microbiomes as dogs change the dirt in home environments, exposing people to bacteria they may not have faced otherwise.
People who live alone have been shown to be at a higher risk of cardiovascular death.
Owning a dog from breeds originally bred for hunting, such as terriers, retrievers and scent hounds, was associated with the lowest risk of cardiovascular disorder.
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.
“There might also be differences between owners and non-owners already before buying a dog, which could have influenced our results, such as those people choosing to get a dog tending to be more active and of better health.”
Sources: The BBC