If you're contemplating getting a dog, recent scientific research provides a great reason why you should go for it. Owning a dog seems to be good for your health. According to a Swedish study published in Scientific Reports in 2017, dog owners have a reduced risk of death compared to non-owners.
The benefits seem to be most significant for people who live by themselves. In single-person households, dog ownership is associated with a 33 percent reduction in mortality risk and an 11 percent reduction in the risk of heart attacks compared to individuals who live alone and don’t have a dog.
Dog ownership doesn't just benefit singles, though. Among multi-person households, the researchers found that having a dog reduced the overall risk of death by 11 percent, and the risk of dying from cardiovascular disease by 15 percent, according to Fox8.
And though researchers found a benefit in dog ownership of all breeds, owners of hunting breeds such as retrievers, terriers, and scent hounds showed the lowest rates of cardiovascular disease.
One major caveat with these results is that the study couldn't provide direct evidence that getting a dog causes you to be healthier or prevents cardiovascular disease, just that people who own dogs tend to have lower mortality rates associated with cardiovascular disease. There may be an ancillary reason that dog owners, on the whole, have fewer fatal cardiovascular issues, such as that people who walk their dog every day often get more exercise than the general population. But it could also be that the type of people who get dogs also tend to be healthier for whatever reason.
But if you're on the fence about owning a dog, just know that getting one could be a life-extending decision.
And there are plenty of other benefits that come with owning a dog. Read more about them here.