Canine lovers already know the benefits of hanging out with Fido — companionship, safety, and more exercise. A new Swedish study suggests that living with a dog might also lower your overall risk of premature death.
Over a 12-year period, researchers sampled 34,202 people in the Swedish Twin Register as well as 3.4 million Swedes between the ages of 40 and 80 in a national database. The findings, published in Scientific Reports, showed that dog ownership was associated with a 20 percent lower all-cause death rate. Individuals who lived alone reaped the greatest benefits: Their overall risk of death was reduced by 33 percent compared with those without a dog.
Researchers also suspect that owning a dog may increase social contact, reduce stress, and improve gut microbiome and immunity (because dogs track dirt into the home). All these factors offer protective benefits that have been shown to extend lifespan — offering more evidence that letting your life go to the dogs can be good for your health.