Seattleites love dogs. There are more dogs in Seattle than children (about 45,822 more according to 2011 U.S. Census and Seattle Animal Shelter data). Our city is teeming with doggie daycare services, dog-friendly cafes and restaurants and hipster pet shops. We even have a local dog celebrity who rides metro buses by herself.
Clearly, we recognize the emotional benefit of having a faithful companion—but did you know dogs can also help us stay healthy?
“Dog ownership, and pet ownership in general, tends to be associated with better health and longer lifespan in people,” says Matt Kaeberlein, Ph.D., a pathologist who studies the biology of aging.
Why dogs rule
In a recent Swedish study, owning a dog appeared to lower one’s risk for cardiovascular disease. The benefit was most pronounced for people living alone with their pet, but having a dog was also associated with lower mortality overall, no matter someone’s living circumstances. More than 3.4 million people were included in the study over a 12-year period.
The results fit with previous findings from smaller studies over the past few years, Kaeberlein says.
There are several reasons why your pooch may be boosting your health, according to Kaeberlein. First, dog owners may get more exercise from regularly walking, hiking or playing with their dog.