According to the study managed to establish that the dog in the family significantly reduces the risk of premature death by more than 33%, and also prevent the development of diseases of the cardiovascular system by more than 11%.
That's good news since people who live alone have been shown to have a higher risk of cardiovascular death.
Working with her colleague, Mwenya Mubanga, on records from Sweden's national registries, Fall also looked at deaths from any cause and found that people who lived alone with their dogs were a third less likely to die over the study period than those without dogs. They were also 11% less likely to have a heart attack, an effect that is not shown among people who live with others and is nearly certainly attributable to our children's leftover french fries.
They also said owning a dog may protect people from cardiovascular disease by increasing their social contact or wellbeing, or by changing the owner's bacterial microbiome.
Here's to keeping your health on a tight leash: New research suggests that having a dog might boost a single person's life span. The researchers offer the theory that dog owners live longer because canine pets provide a sort of social support and motivation for their humans to be more physically active. It's impressive, however, to see such a significant degree of protection from dogs in a dataset comprising millions of people, lending confidence of a strong statistical association.
Fall says the study's results can be generalized to the entire Swedish population, and likely to other European countries with similar living standards and culture regarding dog ownership. Just over 13 per cent were dog owners. "In warmer climates, they could keep them in the yard and won't have to actively take them for a walk", said Fall.
"Perhaps a dog may stand in as an important family member in the single households", Mubanga added. All were free of heart disease at the beginning of the study.
In particular, dog ownership was linked to a lower risk of dying of heart disease. Their chances of cardiovascular death fell by 15 percent. The relationship may work both ways though, with livelier dogs effectively demanding that their owners do not slip into an overly-sedentary lifestyle.
People who buy hunting dogs may be more physically active in the first place, because the dogs require so much exercise. "There are numerous studies showing that dog owners get more physical activity, which could help to prolong a healthy life".