4 Reasons People With Pets Live Longer

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Health

Sharing your life with a pet can be good for you in so many ways -- but did you know it might also help you live longer? Numerous studies, both recent and earlier, have found a correlation between owning a dog or a cat and increased longevity.

While science can't say for certain that a four-legged companion will guarantee a better life expectancy, the multiple benefits of owning a pet ripple across many aspects of mental and physical health, and the effects could very well extend your life span. Find out how below.

1. Better Cardiovascular Health

Senior citizen hand and dog paw forming a heart shape.
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While science has proven that loneliness can break your heart, the opposite also applies. According to a 2019 study published in the journal Circulation, dog owners recover better from major cardiovascular events, such as a heart attack or a stroke, especially if they live alone.

The research -- a meta-analysis of 10 studies conducted between 1950 and May 2019 on over 3 million participants -- also concluded that dog lovers who care for a canine companion tend to live longer than people without a pet.

"Dog ownership is associated with increased physical activity levels and increased social support, both of which could improve the outcome after a major cardiovascular event," wrote the study authors.

2. Lower Risk Of Death

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Reporting on these findings, Verywell Health stressed that dog owners were found to have a 65 percent lower risk of mortality when there's a heart attack history.

"And it is not only dogs," notes the website, pointing to a 2009 study from the Journal of Vascular and Interventional Neurology that uncovered cat owners are less likely to die from a heart attack or a stroke.

The cardiovascular benefits aside, the study discovered that dog owners boast a 24 percent lower risk of death from any cause, compared to nonowners.

3. Reduced Stress & Depression

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One of the clear advantages of looking after our furry friends is the morale boost and positive impact on mental health.

Whenever you spend time with your pet pooch, the brain releases a flow of “happy hormones,” such as oxytocin, serotonin, and dopamine, which not only grants "a greater sense of well-being" but also helps "lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol," states the American Heart Association (AHA).

“Having a family pet may assist a person with managing stress, increasing activity, and decreasing isolation and loneliness,” Keith C. Ferdinand, professor at Tulane University School of Medicine, tells USA Today.

The American Kennel Club also supports the idea, bringing evidence that "the companionship of dogs can reduce anxiety and depression."

4. Plenty Of Exercise

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One of the major contributions that dog ownership has on longevity may stem from the exercise we get from walking our favorite pooch, argued the 2019 study. As it turns out, the physical activity involved is quite substantial compared to nonowners who are sedentary.

"By walking a dog 20 to 30 minutes a day, owners meet the American Heart Association's recommended weekly activity of 150 minutes of moderate exercise to improve overall cardiovascular health," said Ferdinand.

Aside from improving fitness, owning a dog can also help lower your blood pressure and cholesterol, shows AHA.

"Our pets can also help us feel less social anxiety and interact more with other humans. Maybe that’s why dog owners report less loneliness, depression, and social isolation."