By Christopher Ingraham
Some tips for a long, healthy life: eating right. Get a lot of sleep and exercise. And get a dog.
This latest article is from a new study published in Circulation, the journal of the American Heart Association, which reviews decades of evidence on the relationship between dog ownership and mortality.
The authors undertook the review to compensate for differences in the previously published literature on the topic, some of which showed an advantage for owning dogs but others did not.
After reviewing 1
"Dog ownership," according to the authors, "is associated with a lower risk of death in the long term, which may be driven by a reduction in cardiovascular mortality."
So what does it mean to own a dog that has life would humans extend?
In an accompanying editorial, cardiologist Dhruv Kazi from the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center outlined some of the findings. To start with, there are well-documented benefits to a puppy's mental health: "Dogs provide companionship, reduce anxiety and loneliness, increase self-esteem, and improve the overall mood," Kazi writes. For example, the general social survey of 2018 found that dog owners are happier than cat owners.
Then there are the physical benefits. "Several studies have shown that acquiring a dog's performance boosts physical activity (as anyone who has tried unsuccessfully to sleep after a dog's routine morning walk)", Kazi writes. People who own dogs spend more time outdoors, which is known to be good for your health. The simple stroking of a dog – especially a familiar – lowers the blood pressure of a person.
It is plausible that such physical and mental health benefits are the way that dog owners allow a person to live longer. However, a drawback in the literature is that there have been no randomized controlled studies of dog ownership and mortality. For example, the researchers have not done many studies that instruct one group of people to buy a dog and another group to stay petless and track their health over a period of time. These types of studies are considered the gold standard for evidence. You definitely have to say that owning a dog extends people's lives.
You want to do this to eliminate annoying factors. "Pet owners are usually younger, richer, better educated and more likely to be married, which improves cardiovascular outcomes," Kazi writes. It may be the case that healthier and wealthier people make them more likely to buy a dog.
Nevertheless, according to Kazi, the record of previous evidence convinces him that "the association between dog ownership and improved survival is real and is likely to be at least partially causal." One of the larger studies included in the review examined a number of socioeconomic and demographic factors and found that the longevity effect of dog ownership was preserved benefits of owning an animal. In one case, a group of cardiac patients randomly instructed to purchase a dog or cat showed a reduced blood pressure response to stressful situations. In another case, researchers randomly told home residents in Korea to take care of the crickets for eight weeks. After this time, the cricket caring group showed significant improvements in depression and cognitive skills compared to the control group.
"The key benefits of dog ownership in terms of cardiovascular outcomes," writes Kazi, "are likely to be mediated by large and persistent improvements in mental health, including lower rates of depression, decreased loneliness and increased self-esteem."
Although in the current However, if the effects of kittens on mortality were not examined, at least one earlier publication has looked at the association and finding that the possession of cats is also associated with a decrease in fatal cardiovascular events.
If you are serious about living a long life, get a dog and a cat to cover your entire life.
Christopher Ingraham writes about all things data. Previously, he worked at the Brookings Institution and the Pew Research Center.