Dogs and people go together like peanut butter and jelly. Of course, your dog will eat your peanut butter and jelly when you’re not looking, but I digress.
Dogs make us crazy happy, and a recent study gives us even more reason to bring these fuzz balls into our homes. Turns out, dogs help their owners live longer.
Published in the American Heart Association journal Circulation, the study looked at cardiovascular research from between 1950 and 2019 for evidence that dogs decrease the risk of heart disease in owners.
Well, they found it in droves. People who had survived heart attacks were less likely to have another heart related event and were also less likely to ultimately die from cardiovascular disease if they owned a dog. In fact, owning a dog was shown to boost heart health.
But researchers found it wasn’t just heart conditions dogs improved. The data from millions of patients over all those years of study also showed owning dogs lowered the rates of death from any cause. The study stated that dogs decreased the risk of dying by anything by 24 percent.
Health aside, according to a different 2019 study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, dogs can also be credited to improving your overall quality of life.
Which is good, because if you’re going to live longer, you want a high quality life.
Even participants who suffered from chronic pain reported more socialization and lowered rates of depression and anxiety.
Dogs are also shown to help people manage emotional and mental health, says a 2016 study published in the journal BMC Psychiatry. When participants mapped out their social structures, dogs consistently were placed as most central to their social lives.
Another 2019 study, this one published in the journal Aging and Mental Health, showed that older people received mental health benefits when they owned dogs. Having a pet around gave them purpose and decreased feelings of loneliness.
Another segment of society benefitting from dog ownership is youths experiencing homelessness. The animals create a barrier to getting into shelters, but the yong people studied reported feeling more loved than those who didn’t have dogs, according to a 2015 report in Child Psychiatry and Human Development.
What about people who cannot responsibly take care of dogs in their current environment or situation? All is okay. Current Opinion in Psychiatry research from 2015 tells us that even interacting with someone else’s dogs or volunteering to take care of other dogs can be hugely beneficial.
So, the science is in: dog love is a health tonic.
Take a dog for a walk, scratch his ears, rub her tummy and soak up all the healthy goodness for a longer and happier fur-filled life.