There are so many benefits to owning a dog. For one, you get woken up with wet kisses every day. Sometimes that can be annoying, but the fact that it means that another creature loves you unconditionally is enough reason to love it, even if you get a few less minutes of sleep.
Dogs are our best friends because they love us no matter what. Dogs don't know that you suck at parking, or that you cheated on your ex girlfriend. They love you for what's inside your heart. We can learn a lot from that type of unconditional love. It is not unlike the love a mother has for her child.
Most people love dogs except for those who have had a bad experience in their childhood. In many ways, dogs are universal. Owning a dog can make you a more active person, it can give you companionship, and according to a new study, it can even help you live longer.
A new study published in Circulation: Cardiosvascular Quality and Outcomes has concluded that dog ownership may actually provide a better and longer life for people who have survived a heart attack or stroke. Glenn N. Levine M.D. is one of the studies authors. He said,
"The findings in these two well-done studies and analyses build upon prior studies and the conclusions of the 2013 AHA Scientific Statement 'Pet Ownership and Cardiovascular Risk' that dog ownership is associated with reductions in factors that contribute to cardiac risk and to cardiovascular events. Further, these two studies provide good, quality data indicating dog ownership is associated with reduced cardiac and all-cause mortality. While these non-randomized studies cannot 'prove' that adopting or owning a dog directly leads to reduced mortality, these robust findings are certainly at least suggestive of this."
Previous studies have shown that lack of physical activity as well as social isolation can negatively affect patients. This is what sparked the idea to look further into dog ownership's health benefits. There has been previous research that has proved that dog ownership helps lower blood pressure, so it was a natural progression to check into dog ownership's heart benefits.
The study looked at data of patients ages 40-85 who had a stroke or a heart attack. They compared these people's data with those of dog owners. The risk of death following a heart attack was 33% lower from those who did not own a dog. The risk of death following a stroke was 27% lower. It's not just dogs that help either. Those with a partner or child had lower rates of death following a stroke or heart attack as well.
Out of 182,000 who had heart attacks, only 6% were dog owners. And out of 155,000 people who suffered a stroke, 5% were dog owners. That data suggests that simply owning a dog could lead to a lower risk of both ailments. This can be explained by the increase in physical activity that comes with owning a dog, as well as the lower rates of depression and loneliness. It is a good reminder that us humans need social interaction and exercise to thrive.
"We know that social isolation is a strong risk factor for worse health outcomes and premature death. Previous studies have indicated that dog owners experience less social isolation and have more interaction with other people. Furthermore, keeping a dog is a good motivation for physical activity, which is an important factor in rehabilitation and mental health."