It might just be a prescription for a longer life. And it’s one that can be filled at your local animal shelter.
The miracle medication comes with four paws and a wet nose. Dogs. They provide us with pleasure and wrap themselves around our hearts. And in so doing, they benefit our health — and those very hearts that love them, new research has shown.
Good dog. Have a treat.
That’s the bottom line of a recent meta-analysis published by a journal of the American Heart Association. Scientists went back decades, examining research looking at the connection between human health and man’s best friend. The work involved a review of 3.8 million patient records.
What researchers found was striking. Dog owners’ risk of dying by any cause was reduced by 24% compared with folks without a pooch. They also had a 31% lower risk of dying due to a cardiovascular issue. If they did have a heart attack, dog people had a 65% lower risk of dying compared with those living in households without a barking friend.
Those results mirror a second American Heart Association study that showed a dramatically lower risk of death for dog people who have had a heart attack or ischemic [is-KEY-mic] stroke and live alone.
How do canines promote good health? Well, all those dogs have to be walked. And that exercise is healthy, especially for the heart, scientists say. Previous studies have demonstrated that dogs lower their owner’s blood pressure. They reduce stress. And they can alleviate social isolation and depression.
And in case anyone is wondering, the lead author of the meta-analysis is himself the owner of a happy miniature schnauzer. Its name is Romeo.