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Can owning a dog extend your life? © Getty Images

Can owning a dog extend your life?

Published: 15th July, 2020 at 10:02
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All those walkies might actually be good for something.

Some of the best evidence that having a dog can help you live longer comes from research published in 2019 by Canadian scientists who pooled together 10 studies that collectively involved over three million people.


It showed that people with a pet dog were 24 per cent less likely to die over the course of the studies, which averaged 10 years, than those without a dog. This research didn’t show exactly how owning a dog extends your life though. Just that statistically it does, or appears to at least.

The researchers suggest a large part of a dog’s life-lengthening effects may simply be that dog owners get more exercise, by virtue of all those ‘walkies’.

But the researchers say that interpreting the results is not straightforward. Part of the difference may simply be down to dog owners tending to be people who are fitter with healthier lifestyles.

There is evidence though that having a dog in our homes does reduce the likelihood that we’ll get allergies. Over the past decade, several studies have looked at the prevalence of allergies in homes with and without pets.

One of the most recent, published in 2019 by an international research team, showed that having a dog in the house cuts the risk of asthma in children – and having a cat reduced the risk of eczema.

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Andy is a Senior Lecturer in Science Communication at the University of the West of England in Bristol, Programme Leader of the MSc in Science Communication and an award-winning journalist


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