The study, published in Scientific Reports, analysed data from 3.4 million people living in Sweden. It compared the national health registries of those aged 40 to 80 with dog ownership registries (it’s compulsory to register your dog in Sweden).
A lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease was particularly associated with owners of hunting breeds, the study found, and the benefits were highest among single people.
“The results showed that single dog owners had a 33 per cent reduction in risk of death and 11 per cent reduction in risk of heart attack,” lead study author Mwenya Mubanga of Uppsala University told the BBC.
Based on their findings, researchers surmised that dog owners a) probably do more exercise (hello, daily dog walking); b) may be more active in the first place; c) may experience a beneficial boost in wellbeing from bonding with their pet; and d) may improve their bacterial microbiome thanks to the extra grime and grit they’re exposed to.
Whatever the cause, it’s all the more reason to buy that puppy for Christmas, we say.