Lower risk of cardiovascular diseases, heart attack and death in dog owners
More than four million or 45 percent of deaths in Europe in 2016 was due to the cardiovascular diseases and it is a leading cause of death worldwide. A previous study on the health benefits with dog ownership was confusing, particularly of cardiovascular diseases.
An observational study at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, (Uppsala, Sweden), the Stanford University (Stanford, California, the United States) and the Karolinska Institutet (Solna, Sweden) shows 36 percent of lower risk of cardiovascular diseases, 11 percent of lower risk of heart attack and 33 percent of lower risk of death (mortality) with the dog (or pet) ownership in people living alone or in elderly individuals.
The study also found lower health benefits with dog ownership in families with more than one person (or multi-person household). But there is no reduction in the risk of heart attack in those people.
The study found more health benefits to the owner of a hunting bread dog such as terriers, spaniels, retrievers and scent hounds. This may be due to the more exercise needed to a hunting dog (and more exercise to the dog owner) compared to a small dog or dog breed other than a hunting dog as they may not require much exercise (and less exercise to the dog owner).
A 12-year follow-up study was done on 3.4 million Swedish people without any cardiovascular diseases, aged between 40 and 80 years. Researchers used the Swedish Twin Register, the National database and other national data sources for the study. Researchers observed the development of cardiovascular disease or mortality from any cause in people who owned dogs.
The study shows that the dog owners were more physically active and got more health benefits even during a poor weather as they walked more compared with people without a dog. The study results also indicate an enhanced immune system, social well-being and reduced stress levels with the dog owner. The gut bacteria and immunity can improve as the dog brings in the dirt, mud or dust into homes and as they lick us. The dog or pet ownership is the best medicine and a protective factor for people living alone as they provide motivation for the physical activity. Researchers believe that this study may also apply to the people of other countries including the United States.
Even though this study shows a strong evidence for the health benefits of dog ownership, researchers say their study was incomplete as the study does not show how an individual is getting health benefits and why some dog breeds are offering more health protection.
The senior author of the study was Professor Tove Fall, Department of Epidemiology and the lead junior author of the study was Mwenya Mubanga, a Ph.D., student, Department of Medical Sciences, Uppsala University (UU), Uppsala, Sweden. The study was published on November 17, 2017, in the journal Scientific Reports. Title of the article was "Dog ownership and the risk of cardiovascular disease and death - a nationwide cohort study."
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Published by Jammi Vasista, Chennai, India.