Scientific Evidence: Dogs are Good for Us!

Scientific Evidence: Dogs are Good for Us!

It’s always good to have a scientific study back up what we “know to be true”. In this case, it’s what millions of us already know . . . man’s best friends – dogs – are good for humans.

According to new research published in Scientific Reports. Dog owners who live alone are 36 percent less likely to suffer from cardiovascular disease than non-dog owners, while multiple-person households enjoy a 15 percent decrease in heart problems.

And it’s a very big study. A team led by Mwenya Mubanga, who works in the Department of Medical Sciences in Molecular Epidemiology and Science for Life Laboratory at Uppsala University, analyzed medical records from more than 3.4 million residents in Sweden. The team ended up focusing on included people between ages 40 and 80, with a mean average of 57, of which 13 percent were dog owners.

Here’s what the team said:

Dogs may be beneficial in reducing cardiovascular risk by providing a non-human form of social support and increasing physical activity. Dog ownership has been reported to be associated with alleviation of social isolation and improved perception of well being, particularly in single persons and the elderly.

Interestingly, people who own hunting dogs, such as terriers and retrievers, experience the lowest rates of cardiovascular disease. The exact link is unknown. Active people could choose these dogs to work out with more often, or those dogs might inspire people to start running up mountains and across fields. Given the amount of time hunting dogs need to run, it makes sense the human would be influenced as well.

Correlation, of course, does not imply causation, a fact researchers are aware of. Yet beyond exercise they speculate that psychological comfort could be another important factor. Many studies have shown the negative effects of loneliness on a person; strong social networks—real, live ones, not online—are a necessary component of physical and mental health. This could be why rates of cardiovascular problems were markedly lower for those who live alone.

Ha. I’m a dog owner – I already knew dogs are man’s best friend.

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