For their study, published in Scientific Reports, the team looked at data from 2001 to 2012.
Those in multi-person households had an overall risk of death that was 11 percent lower than non-dog-owners, and a 15 percent lower risk of cardiovascular death. Who's a good dog?
The study, which spanned a 12-year period, involved 3.4 million Swedish people between the ages of 40-80.
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Among canine owners, those who had terriers, retrievers, and scent hounds had lower rates of cardiovascular disease than owners of other dog breeds But the statistical tie might have more to do with the lifestyles that those kinds of dog owners have, where they live-out in the country, rather than the city, say-and other factors, rather than anything specific to the actual breed of the dog.
"Dog ownership was especially prominent as a protective factor in persons living alone, which is a group reported previously to be at higher risk of cardiovascular disease and death", Mubanga said.
"Previous findings on dog ownership and the risk of CVD are conflicting", Fall et al. wrote.
The study also says that having a dog increases people's motivation to be more active and add more physical activity into their lives, especially in single-person households where the individuals are exclusively responsible for walking and exercising with their pets.
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"Whether you're a pet owner or not, keeping active is a great way to help improve your heart health". In addition, the single adults with dogs were 36 percent less likely to die from cardiovascular disease. As a result, the researchers posit, dog owners went out more and had added more social interaction than those without dogs.
"There might ... be differences between [dog] owners and non-owners already before buying a dog, which could have influenced our results, such as those people choosing to get a dog tending to be more active and of better health", Tove Fall, senior study author and associate professor of epidemiology at Uppsala University, said in the statement. "Thanks to the population-based design, our results are generalizable to the Swedish population, and probably also to other European populations with similar culture regarding dog ownership", Fall concluded in the statement.
"We have a colder climate so we have indoor dogs where owners take their dogs out for a walk".
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