Can your furry best friend extend your life?

While cats pride themselves in having nine lives, owning a doggy may prolong your own, a Toronto researcher claims.

A study made public last month suggests dog owner live longer than their kitty counterparts, experiencing nearly a one-third lower risk of dying of heart-related issues.

Doctor Caroline Kramer, an endocrinologist at Mount Sinai Hospital, was the leader of the systematic review made available by an American Heart Association journal.

The research team analyzed data from more than 3.8 million people collected from 10 studies published between 1950 and 2019.

They discovered that dog owners saw a 24 percent risk reduction in death overall, and the risk of death due to heart-related issues dropped by 31 percent.

This difference was even larger among heart attack survivors who owned dogs – their risk of death was 65 percent lower than non-owners.

Kramer believes the results are promising, but more studies need to be made in order to prove there are health benefits of having a dog.

“It is an important paper to suggest (a link), but not to provide a definitive answer,” Kramer said.
“Maybe it’s not the dog itself, it’s that people already have a healthier lifestyle before.”

The scientist clinician added that their analysis did not account for variables that may explain the difference in health outcomes between dog people and others.

It is possible that those who own dogs are more likely to have better finances, or that pets fit into their already active lifestyles, she noted.

While it isn’t easy to work out the causes and effects without a randomized clinical trial, Kramer said previous research indicates that man’s best friend may be good for your overall well-being.

In two studies, participants reported that their physical activity increased after they brought a dog into their lives. Another paper suggested that owning a dog helped elderly English people to stay fit during harsh weather.

Kramer also cited a study that found being around cats or dogs can reduce a person’s blood pressure as much as some medical products, suggesting that proximity to such animals can have an immediate positive effect on stress.

She added that there is evidence that suggests dog ownership may have other benefits for emotional well-being, particularly among older people who live by themselves.

Kramer disclosed that she personally experienced the positive effects of owning a dog thanks to her little schnauzer, Romeo, whom she credits with boosting her physical activity by 10000 steps a day.

However, she warned that people should first consider what is best for themselves and the animal before rushing to the adoption center in the name of improving their health.

“If the joy of having a dog is not there, maybe the effect is not the same,”  she said.

“If they consider all that, and they have the proper lifestyle for that, I would say that maybe that it’s something that can change your life.”

Do you believe that your dog has boosted your physical activity?

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