Survival Benefits From Owning a Dog
October 29, 2019
There is good news for current and prospective dog owners: in an official statement, the American Heart Association (AHA) says that data including 10 studies and more than 3.8 million patients shows improved survival rates associated with dog ownership. The data also finds numerous health benefits for people who live alone – especially those with a history of heart attack or stroke – and own a dog.
Health Benefits From Owning a Dog
Both studies make strong cases for the numerous health benefits associated with dog ownership, like:
- A 33% lower risk of death for heart attack survivors who live alone and a 27% lower risk of death for stroke survivors living solo as compared to people without dogs,
- 24% decreased risk of mortality from all causes,
- A 65% reduced mortality risk directly after having a heart attack, and:
- A 31% reduced risk of death due to any cardiovascular problem
Researchers also found dog owners with a history of heart attack or stroke who live with a child or partner have a respective 15% and 12% lower risk of death.
While researchers cannot yet say that there is a direct link between dog ownership and reduced mortality rates, these major findings certainly suggest it – along with the need for additional in-depth investigations. Previous studies found that dog owners typically have increased levels of physical activity as well as lower depression and loneliness rates. Dog ownership has also been linked to lower blood pressure levels and better cholesterol profiles. A low activity level combined with social isolation “is a strong risk factor for worse health outcomes and premature death,” says Tove Fall, one of the researchers.
Tips Before Becoming a Dog Owner
Owning a dog can provide stress relief, companionship and loads of fun – but do not forget having a dog is also a lot of responsibility. Before getting a canine companion, make sure that you have the time and resources for providing him or her with a good, stable life. The American Kennel Club (AKC) recommends considering:
- Owning a dog can cost a lot of money, especially in the case of a veterinary emergency. When getting a new dog you’ll need to buy lots of supplies, like food and water bowls, leash, collar, food, toys, and more. Dogs also need annual check-ups and to stay up-to-date on their shots.
- Housing and making sure a home is “dog safe”. Some homes and apartments do not allow pets or may not be dog friendly. You may need to buy baby gates or a dog crate to keep a dog out of off-limit areas. It is also important to pick up trash and other objects when you own a dog, because they are prone to eating everything – and can get very sick as a result.
- Picking the right dog for you and your family. Different breeds have different personalities and traits, and need different levels of activity and care. Make sure you pick one that works with your lifestyle.
- Dogs do not just need attention; they also need walks, exercise, a healthy diet, and some require grooming. Ensure that your work and personal schedule allow time for your dog’s needs to be met. If you are planning a vacation or will be working long hours, make sure to plan proper care through a trusted individual, dog walking service, veterinarian, or kennel.
Lots of us at Galfand Berger have canine companions that we love, so we are happy to read the AHA’s statement on the health benefits associated with dog ownership. If you have a story about ways your dog has improved your overall quality of life, come share them on our Facebook page and make sure to show your best friend some love this upcoming holiday season!
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