Owning a dog could make you live longer - scientists

Owning a canine friend might help us live longer.

New research shows that dog ownership may be associated with longer life and better heart health, especially for heart attack and stroke survivors who live alone.

The study, published in Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes, a journal of the American Heart Association, found owning a dog is associated with a 24 percent reduced risk of all-cause mortality and a 31 percent lower risk of death by heart attack or stroke compared to non-owners.

"These two studies provide good, quality data indicating dog ownership is associated with reduced cardiac and all-cause mortality," said Glenn N Levine, the chair of a writing group on pet ownership.

"While these non-randomised studies cannot 'prove' that adopting or owning a dog directly leads to reduced mortality, these robust findings are certainly at least suggestive of this."

It's believed our four-legged friends help our health by increasing our physical activity and decreasing our rates of depression and loneliness.

"Having a dog was associated with increased physical exercise, lower blood pressure levels and better cholesterol profile in previous reports," said Caroline Kramer, Assistant Professor of Medicine at the University of Toronto.

"As such, the findings that people who owned dogs lived longer and their risk for cardiovascular death was also lower are somewhat expected."