Forget all those frustrating times when your puppy woke you up in the middle of the night with, er, “stomach issues.”
Forget the time your anxious dog shredded only the left one of three different pairs of shoes, making your blood boil, all because you had the temerity to leave her alone for the evening.
All of that means nothing anymore, because now it’s official: dogs are good for your heart.
A recent Swedish study demonstrates that middle-aged and older dog owners are less likely to die from cardiovascular disease than matched controls sans dog. And those dog owners who lived alone with Fido were less likely to have a myocardial infarction or stroke, as demonstrated during a decade of follow-up in a large study.
Dog owners in Sweden have been required by law since 2001 to get their dogs registered, And an that first year of the law’s enactment, an estimated 83% of dogs were registered with the Swedish Board of Agriculture or the Kennel Club dog registries.
So pouring over the national registry data, the study’s authors checked to see how dog ownership was related to cardiovascular events and death.
Here’s where it gets interesting: out of 4.31 million adults between 40 and 80 years old on January 1, 2001, researchers identified 3.36 million adults who had no prior record of cardiovascular disease. And with access to the registry, the study authors were able to look at all the data on health outcomes until December 31, 2012.
The 162,000 dog owners–as compared with over 3 million non-dog owners—turned out to be less likely to die either of cardiovascular disease or all causes. The relationships were even more pronounced for people who lived alone.
Of course, one of the obvious possible correlates which the study authors were quick to point out, and which any dog owner can tell you about, is the fact that dog owners simply must get out of the house and go for a walk or three every single day. Unlike those people who don’t own a dog and can pass an entire day or even a week lying horizontal on the couch if they so choose, dog owners have no such option.
They are trapped with their furry “personal trainers,” who are always hanging around giving them guilt-inducing looks when its time to go outside, and sometimes even when it’s not time.
But even though there may well be other factors involved that are not yet fully understood, the study still shows a strong correlation between heart health and dog ownership.
Next time your significant other is poo-pooing your idea to adopt a furry friend, tell them you’re only doing it for their health.
And then give them the puppy-dog eyes. That always works.