Want to Live Longer? Get a Pet!

By Shane Power, Watertree Health® President…

Makes sense, right?

Now, there’s a new study that’s been published in Circulation, the journal of the American Heart Association, which analyzes several studies done over decades that show the link between dog ownership and improved mortality rates. (By the way, although the effects of cat ownership haven’t been analyzed in-depth, it certainly can be reasoned that cats can also help you live a long life.)

Based on examining the data of 3.8 million research participants, it was determined that “dog ownership was associated with a 24% risk reduction for all-cause mortality as compared to non-ownership.” This statistic was even better among people who have had heart events, such as a stroke.

So, what are the links between having a dog or cat and better health? It has been shown that:

  • A pet can help improve mental health by offering loving companionship that reduces loneliness and anxiety and increases happiness.
  • Walking a dog helps to increase physical exercise; simply being outdoors can have health benefits.
  • Just petting a dog or cat can have a calming effect and help lower blood pressure.
  • By providing microbe diversity in a home, dog bacteria may help create a healthier environment.

I don’t think we need studies to prove this—pets bring joy to our lives. We smile even when just looking at videos of cats and dogs.

If you do decide to get a pet, please strongly consider adopting from your local animal shelter and not purchasing from a store or breeder. There are so many amazing dogs and cats who need a loving home. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty Against Animals® (ASPCA®) has a local shelter list right on their website: https://www.aspca.org/adopt-pet.

Maybe someday soon doctors will be “prescribing” pets to help improve health outcomes!