Having a Dog Will Help You Live Longer
Having a dog comes with a whole set of unique joys, from the blissful feeling of being greeted at the door with furious tail wagging after a long day, to the realization that you now need to mop up the puddles of pee caused by such excitement. Even better, being a dog owner may also help prolong your life, according to a new study that suggests people who live with a canine have a significantly lower risk of death than those who don't.
It's fine, we'll wait here while you frantically peruse animal adoption organizations for fur babies.
The study, which was recently published in the journal Scientific Reports, tracked more than 3.4 million people in Sweden over a dozen years and found that people who owned dogs had a 20% lower chance of dying than those who didn't. It also found that single dog owners fared even better, with a 33% reduced chance of kicking the bucket compared to single folks without dogs.
To determine this, the researchers consulted loads of Swedish government-collected data on the 3.4 million citizens over the course of 12 years, including whether or not they registered a dog as a pet (a requirement under Swedish law). They then looked at how many of those people died over that period, their cause of death, and whether or not they were dog owners. Based on that, and after adjusting for things like age and sex, they calculated the risk of death and found that having a canine companion significantly reduced the chance of croaking due to cardiovascular disease or other causes.
Of course, this isn't necessarily definitive proof that anyone who adopts a dog is going to tack on a few extra years, as a report by The Verge makes clear. That's because the study doesn't account for a number of factors that could significantly contribute to the dog owners' longevity, including the amount of exercise they get on average. Also, the study was limited to residents of Sweden -- one of the healthiest countries in the world -- so results may vary considerably in other parts of the globe.
Whether or not you buy into this latest intel, it only contributes to mounting evidence that suggests keeping a dog around is good for a human's overall well-being. Several previous studies have shown that dog owners generally have lower blood pressure and there's good research that shows young children who're exposed to dogs early on have a reduced risk of developing asthma. That's not to mention the many, many reasons dog owners are typically more active -- and thus in better shape -- than pet-less people. Though if none of that is enough to convince you why a pup is worth having in your life, maybe this will.