You’ve kicked off your shoes, piled into a comfy chair and you’re thinking about closing your eyes for a minute or two. But just as your eyelids start to sag, who shows up? Whose sad eyes are staring at you? Who wants to go for a walk?
As you gather the energy to part with the chair and drag yourself out the door, consider this study in Scientific Reports that caught the attention of your dog-boarding friends at Tradewinds and was covered in The Guardian and other news sources. As summarized by CNN:
“For people living alone, owning a dog can decrease their risk of death by 33 percent and their risk of cardiovascular-related death by 36 percent, when compared to single individuals without a pet, according to the study. Chances of a heart attack were also found to be 11 percent lower.
“Multi-person household owners also saw benefits, though to a lesser extent. Risk of death among these dog owners fell by 11 percent and their chances of cardiovascular death were 15 percent lower. But their risk of a heart attack was not reduced by owning a dog.”
The Swedish study – the largest by far of its kind – was not set up to determine the cause of the health benefits. Theoretically, it could be that healthier people decide to be dog owners. But dogs are known to provide stress-relieving companionship, and as the study authors said, “Apart from the social support, it has consistently been shown that dog owners achieve more physical activity and spend more time engaged in outdoor activities.”
Your dog could be saving your life. Don’t forget to tie your shoes.