Owning a dog adds years to your life, says study

Everyone who owns a dog will tell you that the unconditional and loyal love that a canine gives you is unmatched in the world. Their feeling of joy is an enhancer of good health and it does wonders for their wellbeing. But now we have empirical proof about how dog ownership is linked to improved heart health for humans. And given heart disease is the leading cause of death globally, this is indeed a very helpful piece of finding.

The findings have been fostered by the data collected from the “Blue Zones” of the world. Blue zones are areas of the world where people live longer, better. Dan Buettner, an explorer, National Geographic Fellow, award-winning journalist and producer, and New York Times bestselling author. He discovered the five places in the world – dubbed blue zone hotspots – where people live the longest, healthiest lives.

He and his team explored what the people living in the world’s blue zones have in common.

What they found was nothing extreme; simply a balance of good health habits and social engagement. Buettner lists nine factors, including:

  1. moderate, regular physical activity,
  2. life purpose,
  3. stress reduction,
  4. moderate calorie intake,
  5. a plant based diet,
  6. moderate alcohol intake, especially wine,
  7. engagement in spirituality or religion,
  8. engagement in family life, and
  9. engagement in social life as the lifestyle habits

All these lead to a long, healthy life. But wait, a Swedish University study has thrown in a lovable factor that lowers one’s risk of developing cardiovascular disease that causes heart attacks and thereby enhances length of healthy life.

New study says pets enhance the longevity of owners:

According to the new study, having a furry friend can reduce depression, promote better sleep, and encourage more exercise. Now, research has indicated that caring for a canine might actually extend your lifespan.

Previous studies have shown that dog owners have an innate sense of comfort and increased well-being. Dogs may be beneficial in reducing cardiovascular risk in their owners by providing social support and motivation for physical activity. A new paper published in Scientific Reports and conducted by Uppsala University in Sweden looked at the health records of 3.4 million of the country’s residents.

The Swedish study: The 12-year-long Swedish study aimed to investigate the association of dog ownership with incident cardiovascular disease (CVD) and death in a register-based prospective nationwide cohort. Self-reported health and lifestyle habits were available for 34,202 participants in the Swedish Twin Register.

These records typically include personal data like marital status and whether the individual owns a pet. Researchers got additional insight from a national dog registry providing ownership information. According to the study, those with a dog for a housemate were less likely to die from cardiovascular disease or any other cause during the study’s 12-year duration. The study included adults 40 to 80 years old, with a mean age of 57.

The Conclusion: In a nationwide population-based study with 12 years of follow-up, researchers found that dog ownership is associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease in single households and with a reduced risk of cardiovascular and all-cause death in the general population. Researchers found that dogs were a positive predictor of health, particularly among singles. Those who had one were 33 per cent less likely to die early than those who did not.

An appeal that those who love animals make: About 15 years ago, the “Adopt, Don’t Shop” campaign was launched by a Los Angeles based nonprofit animal advocacy organization, Last Chance for Animals. Campaigners cite the inhuman ways in which dogs or sold pets are treated and the commodification of these beautiful souls. “Why do you want to buy one? Why can’t you just adopt a stray or a rescued animal, instead?” the activists ask. So, rescue a dog or adopt one, to stop the commercial dog breeding practices that subject the innocent animals to squalid conditions. What we really need is love, companionship, and happiness in our lives and it is for this reason that we take the decision to get home our furry friends, right?

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