New research shows that owning a dog could save your life

Solo residents had a 33% reduction in mortality and an 11% cut in the risk of heart attack compared to people who lived alone without a dog. Little Fido also gives you some much-needed social interaction if you live alone.

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. The relationship may work both ways though, with livelier dogs effectively demanding that their owners do not slip into an overly-sedentary lifestyle. Also, those who lived alone but with a canine had a 36 percent less likely of developing cardiovascular disease. But it turns out, having a dog also has a major health benefit: It's good for your (literal) heart.

"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", Tove Fall, a senior author of the study and a professor at Uppsala University, said in a statement.

The study, which spanned a 12-year period, involved 3.4 million Swedish people between the ages of 40-80.

While it makes sense that owning a dog may encourage physical activity, and previous studies has shown that to be true, researchers say it's also possible that more active people choose to own dogs. This includes taking the dog out for a walk in any weather condition.

Are you a dog lover? In households with more people under the same roof, dogs had less of a positive impact, but still lowered deaths from heart disease by 15%, the work reveals.

Dr. Gisele Wolf-Klein directs geriatric care at Northwell Health in Great Neck, N.Y. She agreed that Fido or Rover can force their humans to get more active.

Dog owners have a significantly lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease and other causes, according to a report by a team of Swedish scientists that gives new meaning to the expression "man's best friend".

"The responsibilities associated with dog ownership impose mandatory daily exercise - a schedule which can not be impacted by adverse weather conditions, personal commitments or mood swings", Wolf-Klein said.

In fact, our very favorite part of dog ownership is when your dog desperately needs to go outside at about 3 am on a rainy night in November because it is extremely important that they sit on the lawn and sniff the air for half an hour.

However, some factors that may affect the results are the differences in climate and socio-economic backgrounds, noted Fall.

  • Joey Payne