The title of this piece is that of an article in the American Heart Association’s journal Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes. The findings below are taken from that article.


  • Dog ownership has been associated with decreased cardiovascular risk. A series of studies has suggested associations of dog ownership with lower blood pressure levels, improved lipid profile, and diminished sympathetic responses to stress.

  • The evidence regarding dog ownership and mortality has yielded conflicting results. Whereas the association between dog ownership and mortality has been explored since the 1980s, living in a home with a dog has been associated with improved survival in some studies with others arguing a neutral effect.


    • Pooling the data of 3 837 005 participants, dog ownership was associated with a 24% risk reduction for all-cause mortality as compared to nonownership (relative risk, 0.76; 95% CI, 0.67–0.86).

    • In analyses of studies evaluating cardiovascular mortality, dog ownership conferred a 31% risk reduction for cardiovascular death (relative risk, 0.69; 95% CI, 0.67–0.71; I2, 5.1%).

    • Dog ownership is associated with lower risk of death over the long term, which is possibly driven by a reduction in cardiovascular mortality. These results hold implications for future studies on lifestyle interventions.

While this is a very interesting it’s impossible to draw a firm cause and effect relationship between owning a dog and living longer, most likely because of a decrease in CV mortality. I’d like to believe such is the case and perhaps it is. There could be a selection bias such that people with better prognoses decide to get a dog. Also, owning a dog may require that the two legged member of the pair or group to be more active which could promote CV health.

Regardless of the reality of dog ownership and reduced death rate, having a canine companion seems sufficient reward on its own irrespective of any beneficial effect on one’s heart. Some things are good in themselves and need no additional justification. Having a dog is one of these.