“A very interesting finding in our study was that 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 than those living in a multi-person household,” Mwenya Mubanga said, an author on the study and PhD student at Uppsala University.
The reason that researchers put forward to explain the drastic difference in statistics between dog parents who live alone versus dog parents who live in multi-person homes was that single dog parents interact with their dogs constantly while that contact is shared among those living in multi-person households.
The study specifically focused on 3.4 million Swedish people between the ages of 40 and 80 (2). It should be noted though that although this specific study took place in Sweden, the researchers strongly believe the same results are being experienced worldwide since dog breeds and people’s attitudes towards dogs are very similar in most countries.
“We know that dog owners, in general, have a higher level of physical activity, which could be one explanation to the observed results,” Tove Fall said, senior author of the study and Associate Professor in Epidemiology at Uppsala University.
Along with the general statistics, the study’s findings also suggested that the increase in social well-being and immune system development could contribute to why the risk for cardiovascular disease and death went down.
For instance, when dogs go outside, they bring in the dirt and also lick frequently, which could help build immunity strength over time. Frequent exercise and reduced stress are also major contributors to the reduction of cardiovascular disease, all of which owning a dog can influence and support.