Owning dog linked to lower risk of dying earlier

33 pc reduction? Your dog is protecting you from this disease

A new study by researchers at Uppsala University in Sweden found that bringing a new little furball into your life can improve your heart health, especially if you live alone.

- Owning a dog slashes the risk of suffering a premature death by a third, new research reveals, according to The Daily Mail.

People living alone fared the best, as owning a dog decreased their risk of death by 33 percent and their likelihood of a cardiovascular-related death by 36 percent, when compared to single individuals who do not have a pet.

The study, which spanned a 12-year period, involved 3.4 million Swedish people between the ages of 40-80. That said, when they looked at a subset of Swedes-42,000 twins engaged in an ongoing national analysis-they didn't find a notable tie between dog ownership and longer life.

In fact, our very favorite part of dog ownership is when your dog desperately needs to go outside at about 3 am on a rainy night in November because it is extremely important that they sit on the lawn and sniff the air for half an hour. "Being a single has previously been reported as a risk factor for cardiovascular disease and it seems that a dog may be able to neutralize this over-risk", said Tove Fall, veterinarian and lecturer in epidemiology at the Department of Medical science at Uppsala University, in a statement. The estimated 1.1 million lonely Britons are 50% more likely to die prematurely than those with good social networks, making loneliness as harmful to the nation's health as diabetes.

Adorable dog

"And people who get dogs might be different from non-owners in other ways before they choose to get a dog, which could have influenced our results, for example they might already be more interested in physical activity or have a higher level of health".

"Other explanations include an increased wellbeing and social contacts or effects of the dog on the bacterial microbiome (gut bacteria) in the owner". Even more interesting: Owners of breeds like terriers, retrievers and scent hounds were even less likely to develop heart disease. Their chances of cardiovascular death fell by 15 percent.

"Our observational study can not provide evidence for a causal effect of dog ownership on cardiovascular disease or mortality", they write. They also probably apply to the United States, she says.

"However, as many dog owners may agree, the main reason for owning a dog is the sheer joy".

Scientists said the companionship was key, along with the physical activity in taking it for a walk.