A study published Tuesday by Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Heart Association, says owning a dog is linked with living longer, USA Today reports.
The meta-analysis looked at studies published from 1950 to May 2019 that evaluated dog ownership and its association to mortality. The research included 10 studies that yielded data from more than 3 million participants.
Scientists found dog owners were likely to live longer than those who didn't have dogs: Dog owners had a 24% risk reduction for death from any cause, according to the study. For people with heart problems, living with a dog had an even greater benefit, authors said.
The potentially life-extending benefits of dog ownership could be traced in part to increased physical activity from walking the dog, authors speculated. The study found dog owners were less likely to die from heart disease compared with nonowners.
Authors said the study's conclusions could be influenced by other traits, such as avoiding smoking or alcohol.
Keith C. Ferdinand, professor at Tulane University School of Medicine, said that 10 times more women die from heart disease and stroke than breast cancer. He said dogs address multiple factors that contribute to cardiovascular diseases, including mental and physical health.