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Can Dogs Help You Live Longer?

Sparky Steps - How can having a dog help you live longer

Can Dogs Help You Live Longer?

Recent headlines about dogs’ potential to increase their human companions’ lifespan gained a lot of attention. Sure, we love our dogs, but what about those soulful eyes and fluffy tails help us to live longer? The study that sparked all those headlines focuses specifically on our hearts.

 

Heart Health

Cardiovascular disease is one of the leading causes of death, which makes our heart’s a major focus for our overall health and longevity. A study published in the Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes journal found that owning a dog decreases a person’s cardiovascular risk. Overall, the study concluded that dog owners have a 31 percent risk reduction for death related to a cardiovascular event. Even if you do experience a major cardiovascular event, like a heart attack or stroke, owning a dog could increase your chances of survival, according to another study published in the same journal. The study authors pointed to factors related to dog ownership, such as increased physical activity and emotional support.

Stress Management

Stress is an unavoidable part of life. We have to juggle our jobs, bills, family responsibilities, and social relationships. Too much stress can affect the immune system and heart health, according to Very Well Mind. Dogs have long proven themselves as emotional support for people–therapy dogs are regularly used in professional settings to help put people at ease and reduce their stress. Our dogs at home can play that same role. Whether you blow off steam by going for a long walk with your dog or your dog lends her completely sympathetic ear to your troubles, owning a dog offers multiple ways to reduce and manage stress levels.

Puppy Love

Playing with your pup and looking into those gorgeous eyes probably makes you feel pretty happy, and this could be in part thanks to oxytocin. Oxytocin, also known as the “love hormone” or “cuddle hormone,” concentrations increase in your body when you look at your dog, according to NPR. While this hormone suffuses you with a feeling a love, it can also help your body in other ways. Oxytocin can help alleviate issues like depression, anxiety, and irritable bowel syndrome, according to Medical News Today. The bond between owner and dog, buttressed by an actual chemical reaction in the body, certainly seems to improve quality of life. Whether or not they add years to our lives, dogs enrich the time we do have. 

 

Written by Carrie Pallardy

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