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Being a pup parent increases your lifespan, research shows


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Photo: Stocksy/Isaiah Taylor Photography

Looking for some fuzzy companionship? Well, there’s a science-backed reason for you to add an adorable puppy to your holiday wish list this year: According to a new study, owning a dog means more than having a ride-or-die bestie—it could actually help you live longer.

The research, published in Scientific Reports, looked at data from 3.4 million Swedish citizens throughout 12 years and found those living alone with a dog were 33 percent less likely to die from any cause and 36 perfect less likely to die from cardiovascular disease than single-occupancy individuals who weren’t pup parents. (Multi-person homes saw benefits too with 11 percent and 15 percent decreased risks, respectively.) And while all dogs were great for the owners’ well-being, having a terrier, retriever, or scent hound had an even stronger impact on participants’ health.

Those living alone with a dog were 33 percent less likely to die from any cause and 36 perfect less likely to die from cardiovascular disease than single-occupancy individuals who weren’t pup parents, according to the study.

So why do dogs have such a huge impact on the people who love them? Previous research has found there are plenty of health-boosting perks to pet owning (like lower stress and blood pressure levels), but dog owners also take 3,000 more steps per day and are significantly more active in the winter than their furry-friend-free counterparts.

“Explanations for this include an increased well-being and social contacts or effects of the dog on the bacterial microbiome in the owner.” — study co-author Tove Fall

“We know that dog owners in general have a higher level of physical activity, which could be one explanation to the observed results,” said senior study co-author Tove Fall in a press release. “Other explanations include an increased well-being and social contacts or effects of the dog on the bacterial microbiome in the owner.”

So, if you’re looking for an excuse to welcome a cuddly pooch into your healthy home, what better reason than your life actually depending on it?

Is sleeping next to your dog the reason you’re always tired? Also, here’s the scientific reason you love taking your dog on walks.