Dog owners have a lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease or other causes, a study of 3.4 million Swedes has found.
The team analysed national registries for people aged 40 to 80, and compared them to dog ownership registers. They found there was a lower risk of cardiovascular disease in owners of dogs, particularly of hunting breeds.
While owning a dog may help physical activity, researchers said it may be active people who choose to own dogs. They also said owning a dog may protect people from cardiovascular disease by increasing their social contact or wellbeing, or by changing the owner's bacterial microbiome.
The microbiome is the collection of microscopic species that live in the gut. It's thought a dog may influence its owner's microbiomes as dogs change the dirt in home environments, exposing people to bacteria they may not have encountered otherwise.