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A new study found that dog ownership can significantly lower a person's chance to develop heart disease.Owning a dog might also boost the lifespan of the owner.The researchers tracked down more than 3.4 million Swedes, aged 40 to 80, who were free from heart disease at the beginning of the study.These individuals were also compared by the researchers to dog ownership registers.
According to the researchers, dog owners who lived alone have an 11-percent lower chance to die from any heart disease.They also had 33-percent less chances of dying from any other causes than people who did not own a dog and who lived alone.
"We know that dog owners, in general, have a higher level of physical activity, which could be one explanation for the observed results.Other explanations include an increased well-being and social contacts or effects of the dog on the bacterial microbiome in the owner," said Tove Fall of the Department of Medical Sciences at the Uppsala University in Sweden.
The bacterial microbiome in humans refers to the collective genetic material of resident microorganisms.Our body is colonized by microorganisms, such as bacteria, fungi, and viruses.In most cases, these microorganisms are harmless to us unless a number of factors made them infectious.The popular member of the human microbiome is the probiotics or good bacteria.
When a person brings home a new pet, the dog introduces new bacteria to the household that have never been encountered before by the owner and household members.It means that the person's body can recognize more types of bacteria, letting the immune system get accustomed to them.Moreover, pet dogs need some tender, loving, and care, somehow forcing their owners to maintain their health and cleanliness.
"The responsibilities associated with dog ownership impose mandatory daily exercise -- a schedule which cannot be impacted by adverse weather conditions, personal commitments or mood swings," said Dr.Gisele Wolf-Klein director of geriatrics at Northwell Health in Great Neck.
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In turn, the owner gets regular exercise that gives many health benefits, such as trimming of excess weight, better control of blood pressure, and stronger lungs from jogging or running.Many people with life-long illnesses like diabetes and hypertension can gain health boosts by simply walking or playing with a pet dog.
Aside from health benefits, socializing with a pet dog helps improve mood, particularly in people suffering from anxiety attacks or depressive moods.The presence of a familiar canine provides a comfort zone for people with mental conditions, including children with autism spectrum disorder.
The study, however, cannot explain how dogs protect their owners from cardiovascular disease.It only served the association of owning a dog to reduced risk of dying from heart diseases.
Health Benefits We Gain from Pet Dogs
A dog is man's best friend and we learn many things from them.Dogs have demonstrated the meaning of friendship, loyalty, resilience, personality, and behavior to their masters for many years.With the recent study, it is apparent that dogs have been giving their owners the ability to live longer, and providing a deeper meaning of companionship.
1.Decreases Vulnerability to AllergiesIn the old days, people perceived that children will be more vulnerable to allergies if a pet is around.But many scientific studies, such as from the pediatrician Dr.James E.Gern at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, have suggested that kids who grew up with pets in the household had less risk of developing asthma and allergies.Babies and children exposed to furry friends were also found with lesser chances of developing eczema, a very common allergy condition.
2.Best Shock AbsorbersSome people suffering from mental and neurological conditions, such as Alzheimer's, usually have outbursts.Dogs help reduce anxiety and chances of outbursts by being a loyal companion.According to Dr.Lynette Hart, an associate professor at the University of California at Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, said that even caregivers felt less burdened with the presence of a cat or a dog.
3.Always There to Make You Feel AlivePeople suffering from terminal illnesses, such as HIV/AIDS, also experience depression because of decreased social support, isolation from society or inability to regain the value of life.Dogs will always make their owners feel alive by making them feel obligated to do things, such as going with them for a walk, tending to the pet's needs, bathing their pet, among others.These simple obligatory tasks can pull them out of depression.
4.Barring Those Stress FactorsStress can cause our body to produce harmful chemicals, such as cortisol and norepinephrine.These chemicals have negative effects on the immune system and cause plaque in the arteries to accumulate, according to Dr.Blair Justice, a psychology professor at the University of Texas School of Public Health.
Performing activities with your pets help your brain to produce neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin, chemicals that give pleasure and a calming effect.This is similar to what people gain from narcotics, temporary boosts of pleasure and relaxation, except that you can do this naturally by socializing and connecting with your dog.