In extremely validating news for dog owners — and compelling evidence for anyone who’s been thinking about adopting a pup — a new study has found that owning a dog can prolong your life.
Researchers looked at more than 3 million Swedes ages 40 to 80 over a 12 year period and found that the dog owners had a 23 percent reduced risk of death from cardiovascular disease, and a 20 percent lower risk of death by any cause.
And if you live alone, the benefit is even greater: Single dog owners had a 33 percent reduced risk of death and 11 percent reduced risk of death from CV compared to single non-dog owners. We take this to mean you should dog up before you wife up.
The breed was also significant. Those who owned dogs bred for hunting, including terriers and retrievers, had an even lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease. (You can infer that the more active the dog, the more active the owner.)
Owners of mutts and pointers were associated with the lowest overall mortality rates. But hey, any dog is still better than no dog, so if canis couchus types like pugs and shih tzus are the pups for you, don’t let anybody breed shame you.
“We know that dog owners in general have a higher level of physical activity, which could be one explanation to the observed results,” said Tove Fall, senior author of the study. “Other explanations include an increased well-being and social contacts or effects of the dog on the bacterial microbiome in the owner." (You can cite this last point whenever somebody gives you flack for sharing a bed with your filthy animal.)
Now go adopt a dog already! It’s for your health. And make it a rescue.