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The study tracked more than 3.4 million Swedes, middle-aged and older, for 12 years. All were free of heart disease at the beginning of the study.
The researchers reported that dog owners who lived alone were 11 percent less likely to die of heart disease and a third less likely to die from any cause, compared with those who lived alone and didn’t have a dog.
The study couldn’t prove cause-and-effect, but its lead researcher said there are many reasons why having a pooch might do a body good.
“We know that dog owners in general have a higher level of physical activity, which could be one explanation to the observed results,” said Tove Fall, an associate professor in epidemiology at Uppsala University in Sweden.