Dogs are not only man’s best friend, Study found dog owners were likely to live longer with a dog. Our four-legged friends have long been praised for their ability to help mental well-being, reducing anxiety and loneliness, but less has been reported about how they might have a positive effect on physical health.

Ease your mind – live longer with a dog

Of course, they can still upset us sometimes and there are many instances of dogs being vicious to other animals and children, as well as straying off and causing dangerous accidents. But with research increasingly revealing that companionship can be beneficial for our physical health, it’s no surprise that ‘alpha’ canines seem to have some hidden health benefits. According to a new study, dogs can actually help to reduce symptoms of mental health problems, and also improve physical health too. Eighty people with chronic depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) filled in questionnaires to determine how their mental and physical health had been impacted by being a dog owner.

live longer with a dog

Eat well

The findings, from a study of over 6,000 Americans, revealed dog owners generally live longer with a dog and were generally less stressed and physically unhealthy. The study, by Bristol University, found that dog owners were less likely to smoke cigarettes and drink alcohol excessively. However, the study also highlighted a major caveat in the study: it did not examine the effect of owning a dog on lifespan. We already know that pets can improve physical health and even aid recovery after a heart attack or stroke. But this study has prompted a further investigation into the link between dog ownership and physical health, according to Dr. Catherine Roe of the British Heart Foundation.

Exercise – Live longer with a dog

A study published this week showed that walking with a dog for 15 minutes a day could be the most effective form of exercise, especially for elderly people. Participants in the study who walked for five to seven minutes daily with a dog were 10% less likely to be hospitalized than those who did not, while those walking 15 minutes a day with a dog were 26% less likely to be hospitalized. According to the study, walking is good for people’s health because it helps people who are overweight or obese to lose weight and improves blood circulation. It also strengthens muscles and improves balance. The study, published in The Lancet, was based on data collected from more than 130,000 adults aged 65 or older in Ontario, Canada.

Dogs and depression

A 2012 study published in the journal Biological Psychiatry showed that a dog’s simple presence could actually improve the mood of its owners. According to the results of the study, owners of dogs were less anxious and more content compared with people with regular pets. A more recent study from the University of Washington in Seattle revealed similar findings, after finding that people who lived alone and owned dogs were less likely to be depressed than those without a dog. In fact, a number of previous studies have demonstrated the health benefits of owning a dog, especially if it comes with regular exercise.

Dogs and heart disease

A new research study published in the journal Health Psychology by Dr. Heidi Anderson and her team from Deakin University has found that people live longer with a dog due to their positive effect on the cardiovascular system. In the study, the team of researchers placed dogs in the homes of 2,000 people over the age of 65 and compared their cardiac risk profiles with those of 6,888 people who didn’t have a dog. They discovered that those who owned a dog had a 30% lower risk of cardiovascular disease and a 10% lower risk of dying from it. The study also suggests that owning a dog provides more health benefits than walking or running around it.

Dogs and depression

Dogs and Cancer

Now, University of Illinois research, published in the journal Scientific Reports, has highlighted how dogs can reduce the risk of cancer, reduce the length of time spent in hospital and cut the chance of falling ill from infections. Each year, around 3.5 million people in the UK suffer from cancer of any kind. It’s now believed that half of the patients are living with cancer diagnosed long after the first symptoms, and over a third of these patients are living with cancer for more than five years. Although treatments have improved in recent years, the five-year survival rate for most types of cancer is around 10% or less.

However, a new study by the University of Liverpool found that owning a dog might help reduce a person’s risk of cardiovascular disease and early death by as much as 50%. The research, conducted over a decade among almost 27,000 people, found a small yet significant link between living with a dog and living longer. The study’s results are particularly positive as dog ownership is a privilege not usually afforded to most pensioners. Around half of the elderly people in England do not have a dog, according to the charity Social Bite, the only organization in the UK dedicated to serving homeless people.

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