Owning A Dog Makes You Live Longer, Says Science

by Meredith Bland
Image via Tom Merton/Getty Images

Study finds dog owners live longer

Dogs. We already know that they are very good boys and girls. Who’s a good dog? They are. But a new study out of Sweden shows that not only do dogs add joy to our lives, they also add years to it.

A study published in today’s Scientific Reports shows that owning a dog reduces your risk of cardiovascular disease and death. Researchers found, after looking at data from over 3 million people, that the increased social support and physical activity that comes from having a dog lowers the risk of cardiovascular disease by 11% and death from any cause by 15%.

Though dog owners overall saw these benefits, the effects were strongest among people who lived alone, who were 36% less likely to develop heart disease and 33% less likely to die than people living alone who don’t own dogs. They were also 11% less likely to have a heart attack, an effect that is not shown among people who live with others and is almost certainly attributable to our children’s leftover french fries.

As far as companions in life go (and we’re including people in this) dogs are the best. They’re always thrilled to see you, they love being around you, and they know that no matter what the argument was, you were 100% right. We’ve known for a while that you live longer when you live with someone else, but the added benefit of having a dog is that they need to get outside and go for walks, which forces us to get up and take them no matter how tired we are or what the weather is like.

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. Thanks for the extra cardio, dog.

Researchers also found the lowest rate of cardiovascular disease was among owners of hunting breeds, which isn’t surprising when you think about the high-intensity workout they get when their dogs spot a squirrel.

Now, the results of this study don’t mean that there’s a causal relationship between owning a dog and living longer. That would be a tough study to pull off since you would have to take a random set of people, give some of them dogs, and see who died first. (Might not get that one past the institutional review board.) But in the meantime, we’ll take this association as further proof that dogs are the best and that’s the end of the story.