They might shed hair, drool excessively and bark at the neighbours, but owning a dog could in fact help you live longer.
A team of scientists at Uppsala University in Sweden have found that those with a canine companion had a lower risk of death due to cardiovascular disease, as well as other causes.
More than 3.4 million Swedes aged 40 to 80 were examined in the study, which showed that dog ownership was a “protective factor” in people living alone, says Mwenya Mubanga, lead junior author of the study and PhD student at the Department of Medical Sciences and the Science for Life Laboratory, Uppsala University.
“Perhaps a dog may stand in as an important family member in the single households,” he says.
Owning a dog generally leads to higher levels of physical activities, which could be one explanation for the findings.
“Other explanations,” says Tove Fall, senior author of the study and Associate Professor in Epidemiology at the Department of Medical Sciences and the Science for Life Laboratory, Uppsala University, “include an increased well-being and social contacts or effects of the dog on the bacterial microbiome in the owner."