As if you needed another reason to own a dog, a recent scientific study has evidence that dogs are our literal life savers. There's Lassie saving little Timmy from the well and those hyper-alert dogs that warn their owners of late-night house fires, but it turns out your pup doesn't need to perform any acts of heroism to help you live longer. Endocrinologist Caroline Kramer published a new systematic review of almost 70 years' worth of global research on dogs, and her findings are impossible to ignore. All your dog needs to do to potentially save your life is simply be a dog.
Having a dog could extend your lifespan.
Kramer published her findings in "Circulation," a journal of the American Heart Association. She wrote,
" Our analysis found having a dog is actually protective against dying of any cause."
In fact, owning a dog lowers a person's risk of dying early by 24%. For people who suffered from a heart attack or stroke, that percent is even higher. The study's compilation of data found these people reduced their risk of dying from cardiovascular disease by 31% if they owned a dog.
The data for these findings was collected from nearly 4 million people across the globe. It looked at people of varying ages and with different health concerns. The studies included dog lovers, lifetime dog owners, and those who never owned a dog in their lives.
Dogs improve health in more ways than one.
While Kramer's findings are significant in respects to overall health, the observational study still cannot prove why or how dogs affect human health. Does it have to do with dogs themselves, or is it because certain types of people are more likely to own dogs, and those are also the types of people that are likely to live longer? These are questions that can't be answered at this time, but there are theories to explain why owning a dog can help a person live longer.
The American Heart Association gives dogs credit for encouraging their humans to be more active. Dog owners who walk their dogs on a regular basis, for example, get in a lot more heart-healthy exercise than people that aren't pushed out the door by a wet nose and wagging tail.
There are also numerous studies on how simply petting a dog can reduce stress and improve heart health. Our four-legged friends also seem to have the ability to reduce blood pressure as well as feelings of anxiety and depression.
When you add all of those health benefits to the super hero dogs out there actively saving lives, it's clear dogs have a significant impact on human mortality. And when you rescue a dog from a shelter, you're also saving that dog's life. Dog owning is a win-win all around!