TORONTO - A University of Toronto study published Tuesday found that dog ownership is associated with a lower risk of death over the long term.
The study, called “Dog Ownership and Survival,” said the conclusion is possibly driven by a reduction in cardiovascular mortality.
Dog ownership has been associated with decreased cardiovascular risk, the study said, adding that a series of studies has suggested associations of dog ownership with lower blood pressure levels, improved lipid profile and diminished sympathetic responses to stress.
The study, published in the journal Circulation, pooled the data of 3,837,005 participants and found that dog ownership was associated with a 24 percent risk reduction for all-cause mortality, as compared to non-ownership of dogs.
In analyses of studies evaluating cardiovascular mortality, dog ownership conferred a 31 percent risk reduction for cardiovascular death, the study said.
The study also said other factors, such as socioeconomic and overall health status, could interfere with the mortality estimates.
“For instance, individuals with higher socioeconomic status, better physical fitness, and healthier lifestyle (such as not smoking or drinking alcohol) could be more likely to own a dog such that the impact of dog ownership in reducing risk of death may partially be representative of an overall lifestyle profile,” the study said.
The meta-analysis of the study suggests the need for “further investigation of the potential for dog ownership as a lifestyle intervention that may offer significant health benefits, particularly in populations at high-risk for cardiovascular death.”
This story was reported from Los Angeles.