IN THE NEWS: Study found dog owners have healthier arteries

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IN THE NEWS: On DEC 11, 2017

Cardiovascular disease accounts for one third of deaths worldwide. Many factors contribute to a person's risk of developing cardiovascular disease with lifestyle factors being vitally important, including smoking, dietary habits, lack of exercise and alcohol consumption.

While it can't be isolated to a single cause, stress is another risk factor in the development of cardiovascular disease. People with subjectively higher stress levels are at higher risk of suffering from cardiovascular disease. While many factors help to combat stress, regular exercise and positive relationships are two essential factors in stress management.

A study published last month in the journal Nature investigated the link between dog ownership and death from cardiovascular disease. Almost three-and-a-half million people in Sweden with an average age of 57 were followed over 12 years. The results of the research showed that people who own dogs are 30 per cent less likely to die from cardiovascular disease compared to non-dog owners. Additionally, the research found that dog owners had a lower risk of death from all causes, meaning that they lived longer in general compared to non-dog owners.

While this research establishes a correlation between better cardiovascular health and owning a dog, it doesn't necessarily mean that owning a dog was the cause of owners' better cardiovascular health. However, it is possible that owning a dog was at least partially responsible for this boost in cardiovascular health and longer lives of the owners. Potentially the extra exercise gained from regular dog walking and even the companionship from man's best friend boosted the health of the dog owners and helped them to live longer, healthier lives.

Other research performed earlier this year has also shown another benefit of dog ownership. Infants who grow up in a house with a dog are less likely to develop allergies later in life.

At this time of year it is important to remember that while owning a pet can bring a lot of love and excitement into a home we must keep in mind that a pet is not a gift which can be given without significant responsibility. Dogs, and pets in general, require a lot of work and care to maintain their health and safety. We must consider a pet's needs as well.

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