There are many benefits to dog caretaking. One is that you always have a warm friend to watch The Great British Baking Show with. Another is that if you’re ever feeling sad, your dog will force himself into your personal space with what can only be interpreted as a desperate need to make you stop feeling that way — HELLO? YES, I AM HERE, OKAY, OKAY, OKAY, HELLO — which is just so lovely. Plus you always have someone to spend a lot of unnecessary money on that isn’t technically yourself. And then also this!
According to a new study published Tuesday in Circulation, a journal of the American Heart Association (as I’m sure you knew), dog owners experience “a 24 percent reduction in all cause mortality.” All cause mortality! (“Our analysis found having a dog is actually protective against dying of any cause,” said Dr. Caroline Kramer, Mount Sinai endocrinologist and the study’s lead author.) (Of any cause!) Seems insane to me, but the research team behind the study reportedly reviewed nearly 70 years of global data and analyzed about 4 million people in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, Scandinavia, and New Zealand, which sounds impressive, you have to admit, and, well, I do trust them.
The study originally intended to see whether dog ownership reduced cardiovascular mortality, and it did show that those who’ve already suffered a heart attack or stroke reap an even bigger benefit. “For those people, having a dog was even more beneficial,” said Kramer. “They had a 31 percent reduced risk of dying from cardiovascular disease.”
Thirty-one percent! But the study ended up proving that dog-having reduced a whole bunch of other ways you might die, too. According to Kramer, dog-having can lead to “lower blood pressure levels, improved lipid profile, and diminished sympathetic responses to stress.” Plus there are other benefits, “such as positive social-psychological effects … dog ownership can be particularly beneficial for specific populations such as single elderly individuals.”
Unfortunately, science has not found a way to donate to dogs some of the extra life we gain by taking care of dogs, in order that they might be able to spend more time with us. This is the study that I would like to hear about, personally. What am I gonna do with all these extra years? Be sad about how my dog died 100 years ago? No thanks. Not to end on a downer.