Owning a dog could help you live longer, study suggests

A University of Toronto study published Tuesday found that dog ownership is associated with a lower risk of death over the long term. 

The study, called “Dog Ownership and Survival,” said the conclusion is possibly driven by a reduction in cardiovascular mortality.  

Dog ownership has been associated with decreased cardiovascular risk, the study said, adding that a series of studies has suggested associations of dog ownership with lower blood pressure levels, improved lipid profile and diminished sympathetic responses to stress. 

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The study, published in the journal Circulation, pooled the data of 3,837,005 participants and found that dog ownership was associated with a 24 percent risk reduction for all-cause mortality, as compared to non-ownership of dogs. 

In analyses of studies evaluating cardiovascular mortality, dog ownership conferred a 31 percent risk reduction for cardiovascular death, the study said. 

The study also said other factors, such as socioeconomic and overall health status, could interfere with the mortality estimates.

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“For instance, individuals with higher socioeconomic status, better physical fitness, and healthier lifestyle (such as not smoking or drinking alcohol) could be more likely to own a dog such that the impact of dog ownership in reducing risk of death may partially be representative of an overall lifestyle profile,” the study said. 

The meta-analysis of the study suggests the need for “further investigation of the potential for dog ownership as a lifestyle intervention that may offer significant health benefits, particularly in populations at high-risk for cardiovascular death.” 

This story was reported from Los Angeles.