A recent study of over 3.4 million people conducted in Sweden has found a link between dog ownership and a significant reduction in risk of heart attack, stroke, cardiovascular death, and all cause death. The study, published in the journal Scientific Reports, found that when adjusted for age and sex, dog owners had a 23% reduced risk of cardiovascular related death and 20% reduced risk of all cause death. Interestingly, compared to people who live alone, single dog owners had a 33% reduced risk of death and 11% reduced risk of heart attack. People who own dogs are more likely to be physically active, have social contact, and be exposed to different beneficial bacteria that a non-owner might not be. The dog breed with the largest risk reduction were hunting dogs such as pointers (40%) and scent hounds (37%).
Do you think that the reduced risk of death in this study was more related to the effect of owning a dog, or the type of person who owns a dog? Should we consider recommending that people who live on their own get a dog given the huge death risk reduction for that population?