Owning A Dog When You’re Living Alone Lowers The Risk Of Premature Death
Living alone has its good sides and its bad ones too. The good parts of living alone come in the form of having things where you want them to be, you have a higher degree of independence and privacy, among others. But the downside is that humans are generally social creatures. And even if we enjoy living alone, there might be some health benefits that we can only get with companionship.
In a recent study, some Swedish researchers have found a positive relationship between owning a dog, living alone, and having a lower risk of heart disease, or other illnesses.
The research team from Uppsala University have looked into the national registries involving 3.4 million Swedes aged 40 to 80. All of these people presented no cardiovascular diseases as of 2001. This information was then linked with dog ownership registers – revealing that there is a correlation between dog ownership and health.
According to these results, single dog owners had a 33% lowered risk of premature death, as well as an 11% reduction in cardiovascular disease, when compared to single people with no dogs. Another interesting discovery that came from this correlation is that hunting breeds somehow offered the best protection.
“These kind of epidemiological studies look for associations in large populations but do not provide answers on whether and how dogs could protect from cardiovascular disease. We know that dog owners in general have a higher level of physical activity, which could be one explanation for the observed results.
Other explanations include an increased well-being and social contacts or effects of the dog on the bacterial microbiome in the owner,” 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.
The author also mentions the possibility that there might already be a slight difference between dog owners and non-owners, even before they were exposed to their pets. This could have also influenced the results here. The idea is that people who own dogs are generally more active than non-owners, which means that they generally have a better health and lifestyle, to begin with.
Now, even though there is no thorough analysis on this issue, the fact that the study was carried out over such a large number of people, indicates that the correlation is, in fact, there. Other related research suggested that people who own and walk their dogs on a daily basis are 34% are more likely to meet federal benchmarks for physical activity and are less stressed.