If you’re looking for yet another reason to finally get your kids that puppy they’ve been begging for, here’s one that’s hard to ignore! Dogs really do help us live longer, new studies prove! While science has been touting the benefits of dog ownership for years, two recent studies drive the point home like never before. Check them out, then make an appointment for your local animal shelter!
Studies Prove Dogs Really Do Help Us Live Longer
The fact that dogs are beneficial to people isn’t exactly shocking news. Dog owners realized that their pups lowered stress and made us happier long before most of us were even a gleam in our parents’ eyes! However, two recent studies that concluded within the last few months really stand out, mostly because they weren’t just tiny projects by obscure universities.
The first one, done by the American Heart Association, found that dog ownership reduced risk of early death for heart attack survivors living alone by 33%. It also reduced risk of early death for stroke survivors by 27%. As for those who haven’t suffered either, it was still associated with “a 24% reduced risk of all-cause mortality.” In other words, even if you have zero history of heart disease or stroke, your dog reduces your risk of dying by nearly a quarter compared to those who don’t own dogs.
The second study, done by the Mayo Clinic, backs up AHA’s claims, proving that owning a pet can help maintain heart health, especially if it’s a dog. Dr. Maugeri, the lead researcher, says that the study findings “support the idea that people could adopt, rescue or purchase a pet as a potential strategy to improve their cardiovascular health as long as pet ownership led them to a more physically active lifestyle.”
That last part is one of the keys to explaining why dogs really do help us live longer. Let’s take a closer look, along with other ways canine companions improve and extend our existence.
Why do dogs help us live longer?
I bet if you think about it, you’ll guess the answer! Dogs help us live longer for two main reasons- they help keep us active and reduce stress. Let’s look at that first one, since the Mayo Clinic brought it up in their study.
How much more active are dog owners?
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that people with dogs go for more walks than people without. If you don’t have a backyard and need to walk your dog so he can do his business, you’re getting out and about multiple times a day. Even if you do have a fenced-in yard for Fido, most dog owners know that it’s still important to take your pup for regular strolls. He needs the mental stimulation.
Just how much more do dog owners walk? According to Runner’s World, a major study found that 60% spent at least 120 minutes walking per week. While adults did most of the walking, kids often got involved as well. Older teens took full responsibility for the strolls, while younger kids accompanied their parents.
How do dogs help lower our stress?
The answer to that comes in two parts. First, it’s no secret that all that additional exercise is great for lowering stress! In fact, exercise is one of the most highly recommended natural anxiety busters.
However, the extra workouts aren’t the only way dogs reduce our anxiety. Numerous studies support the idea that even just petting your dog can help reduce blood pressure and stress levels. In fact, it works so well that some workplaces bring in therapy dogs to help their employees unwind.
If these studies don’t prove once and for all that dogs are incredibly beneficial, allow me to present you with even more evidence.
More proof that dogs are good for us
As I mentioned earlier, studies into the benefits of dogs are hardly new. Here are a few more highlights from the ever-growing body of literature.
- A 2006 study discovered that dogs really can smell cancer and possibly help catch it earlier than even the best tools of modern medicine.
- A 2018 study found that therapy dogs helps college students manage test stress better. Just petting them for 10 minutes gave them a much-needed break from worrying and lowered their tension.
- Earlier in 2019, a major study concluded that dogs can “vastly improve the quality of life of people living with Type 1 diabetes”. How? Basically, they’re trained to sense changes in your blood sugar and alert you when it gets too high or low.
- Just for fun, here’s a 2012 discovery that shows dogs may have been domesticated as early as 33,000 years ago, proving dogs have a very long and rich history of helping humans live their best lives.
There’s no denying that dogs really do help people live their best lives. Of course, all good things come with drawbacks. Dogs are a lot of responsibility, for one thing. Adopting one is definitely something that requires a lot of thought and planning. It’s not something to go into on a whim. That said, if you’re on the fence and feel you’re ready for a dog, these studies can definitely give you that final push that you need!