If you want to live longer, get a dog! In two separate studies, researchers from Sweden and Canada found that dog owners live longer than people who don’t have a canine. One group found that older people who live alone are a third less likely to die after a heart attack if they have a pet dog. The American Heart Association cautions that this doesn’t prove that dogs will help keep people healthier, but it’s pretty good evidence that having a dog is beneficial for older people.
The other group of researchers found that owning a dog was linked to a 24 percent lower risk of death by any cause, a 65 percent lower risk of dying after a heart attack, and a 31 percent lower risk of dying of any cardiovascular cause. It’s thought dog owners might feel less loneliness and generally get more exercise than people without dogs, both of which can have protective effects on the body.