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18 November 2017, 12:06 | Darrell Baldwin
Owning a dog can help you live longer new research has found
Dogs can alleviate psychosocial stress, depression and loneliness, according to the study, all of which are stressors that can encourage coronary heart disease, cardiovascular death and all-cause mortality. "There are numerous studies showing that dog owners get more physical activity, which could help to prolong a healthy life".
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"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".
"And people who get dogs might be different from non-owners in other ways before they choose to get a dog, which could have influenced our results, for example they might already be more interested in physical activity or have a higher level of health".
Researchers at Uppsala University in Sweden have posited the theory that this is due to the fact that dogs have the ability to change their owner's bacterial microbiome by exposing them to bacteria they had not yet encountered.
"Perhaps a dog may stand in as an important family member in the single households".
Scientists examined data relating to Swedes aged between 40 and 80, who in 2001 (when registration of dog ownership was first made obligatory) had no history of cardiovascular disease.
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An interesting finding, though purely correlative, was that dogs belonging to breeds originally selected for hunting offered the most protection, the authors reported in Scientific Reports. "We see effects in the single households that are much stronger than in multiple-person households", she said. All were free of heart disease at the beginning of the study.
Worldwide, it's the leading cause of death, accounting accounting for 45 percent - or more than 4 million - in Europe in 2016.
"Dog owners in particular tend to be a little more extroverted, or outgoing" Kay Joubert, Director Companion Animal Services at PAWS, told The Huffington Post.
But Fall does not believe that getting more exercise explains all, or even most, of the health effects that come with dog ownership.
Dr Mike Knapton, associate medical director at the British Heart Foundation, said: "Owning a dog is associated with reduced mortality and risk of having heart disease".
While some previous studies have shown similar positive effects for pet ownership generally, others have shown the opposite effect.
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