Research published in the American Heart Association-affiliated journal Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes appears to show that owning a dog is linked to a longer life and a lower chance of dying of a heart problem. Researchers in both a study and a meta-analysis sought to determine how dog ownership affected health outcomes. Both found that dog ownership may be associated with longer life and better cardiovascular outcomes, especially for heart attack and stroke survivors who live alone.
In the study, researchers looked at patients aged between 40 and 85-years-old who had experienced heart attacks or strokes between 2001 and 2012 as recorded in Sweden’s National Patient Register. They found that 181,696 patients had a heart attack and 154,617 had a stroke in this period. About 5.7 percent of those who had a heart attack and 4.8 percent of those who had a stroke owned dogs.
The researchers found dog owners in the study tended to have a “better outcome after a major cardiovascular event.” Dog owners who lived alone were 33 percent less likely to die after leaving the hospital after a heart attack compared with those who didn’t have a pooch, dropping to 15 percent if the individual had a partner or child at home. The results were similar for those who were treated for a stroke.
A second scientific review and meta-analysis about dog ownership and survival rates found similar results. Researchers reviewed data on 3,837,005 million people involved in 10 other studies published between 1950 and May 2019. They found that dog owners were 24 percent less likely to die prematurely of any cause. They also had a 65 percent reduced risk of death following a heart attack, and a 31 percent reduced risk of death due to cardiovascular problems.