Here’s why owning a dog can help you live longer, study says

Survey Says Dog Owners Top Cat Owners in Terms of Happiness The report comes from the General Social Survey, which collects information on U.S. Citizens. This includes experiences, attitudes and practices. In a recent survey, owners were asked about the connection with their pet. Results ended up showing that dog owners were much happier than cat owners. In the survey, the GSS said 36% of dog owners said they were "very happy." The survey adds that those with dogs were more likely to be homeowners

Two large studies found dog ownership was linked with better heart health

If you want to increase your chances of living a little longer, consider getting a pet.

» RELATED: Study: Here's why having a dog is good for your heart

According to two studies published in Circulation, a journal of the American Heart Association, dog ownership is associated with a lower risk of premature death.

The first assessment compared the health outcomes of more than 330,000 Swedish dog owners and non-owners after they had a heart attack or stroke.

They found dog owners who lived alone after being hospitalized for a heart attack had a 33% lower risk of death, compared to non-owners. Those who lived with someone had a 15% reduced risk.

And dog owners who lived alone after being hospitalized for a stroke were 27% less likely to die early, compared to non-owners, while those who lived with someone were 12% less likely.

The second analysis from Mount Sinai Hospital in Canada reviewed the patient data of over 3.8 million people from 10 separate studies across the world.

Compared to non-owners, they said dog owners had a 24% reduced risk of all-cause mortality, a 65% lower chance of dying after a heart attack and a 31% decreased risk of death from any heart-related issues.

"The findings in these two well-done studies and analyses build upon prior studies and the conclusions of the 2013 AHA Scientific Statement 'Pet Ownership and Cardiovascular Risk' that dog ownership is associated with reductions in factors that contribute to cardiac risk and to cardiovascular events," said Glenn Levine, chair of the writing group of the American Heart Association's scientific statement on pet ownership.

Although the scientists noted these reports do not prove having a dog directly leads to reduced mortality, they believe dogs can help boost physical activity, which is known to help lower cardiovascular disease risk.

“Having a dog was associated with increased physical exercise, lower blood pressure levels and better cholesterol profile in previous reports,” said Caroline Kramer, co-author of the Mount Sinai study. “As such, the findings that people who owned dogs lived longer and their risk for cardiovascular death was also lower are somewhat expected.”

Want to learn more about the findings? Take a look here.

» RELATED: Dog owners happier than cat owners, survey find