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Dog Ownership and Survival (ahajournals.org)
86 points by Kaibeezy 13 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 92 comments

My dog saved my life; unconditional two-way love and the responsibility of caring for another being got me out of my own head, and that cascaded out through every other area of my life in untold ways. It’s a massive cliche, but he really is my best friend and I can’t imagine life without him.

My experience is that a dog requires a minimum of 45 minutes walking a day, day in, day out, for years on end.

They are also indefatigable life coaches who simply will not take no for an answer. (Your human life coach probably won’t jump up on the bed where you are trying to ignore them and start licking your face, or bark “Out! Out! Out!” at you hundreds of times in a row.)

And if you still manage to blow off your dog, your reward is a nice pile of crap and puddles of pee in your house.

Meanwhile, the walks are enjoyable.

So you are pretty much going to be a regular walker if you take care of a dog. (Well, there are workarounds for some situations and some dogs, but why swim upstream on something like this?)

I have grown up in a family that always had a dog. So naturaly when I was in at the point I could support a dog me and my girlfriend got a puppy. The first years I spend a lot of time with my dog, training, walking and stuff. But then our first child was born, I got bussier with work. And now there is no time left to spend on the dog. Most of the long walks are replaced with a boring short walk to the back of the yard to do business. He gets tired half way along the shortest walk we can take that allows us to leave a busy street and let him roam free. So even the long walks are not always that enjoyable. Our dog often enough takes no for an answer and is lazy. But if that is cause or effect I don't know.

Some weeks are better than others, and some weekends allow for time to take the car with the family and the dog to a forest. But often that requires planning and stress as well.

So just like a baby won't save a mariage, a dog won't guaranteed bring you more happiness. And I didn't even mention yet that if you have bad luck with your dog and it gets injured or a hereditary disease. Then your dog even becomes a burden.

I can relate to everything you are saying. I have 2 kids now that came when my dog was about 4 years old. Things that (could) become an issue with dog ownership.... being waken up repeatedly during the night, not being able to take certain vacations without having to find accommodations or boarding the dog, development of long term issue like diabetes, complications like vomit/pee/poop in the house, no longer being able to board your dog many places if they are receiving insulin shots, and unfortunately... trauma from end of life care and decisions. A couple weeks ago we euthanized our dog who started having progressively worse seizures in less than a week time period. The most traumatic part of it was that she recovered partially on anti-convulsive medication. She already was getting older for her breed mix and had limited sight from cataracts and deafness so there were concerns about quality of life. I had to decide between spending increased time and money to keep her alive and potentially investigate the cause for some unknown amount of time, something that would be done for a human, or letting her go to avoid further pain/seizures for her and progressively more disruption to my family's life. I'm still not completely comfortable with the decision I made. The experience makes me not want another dog for which I would have to go through the end of life experience again.

Sorry to hear about your pup. My wife and I went through the same thing a few months ago. Our dog had cataracts and was mostly deaf, and she started having seizures too. We also made the decision to euthanize. It got to the point where she was having them every few hours. Unfortunately that's part of dog ownership, is knowing that they do not live forever and having to make that choice for them. It sounds like your dog was in a very loving family. That is the contract we make with them, that we will love them and they'll love us back. Putting her through even more pain just to prolong her life for a small amount of time would not have been the right decision for anyone. It's hard to let go and heal but I hope you don't blame yourself for making that choice.

PM me if you want to discuss this some more. Virtual hugs.

> The experience makes me not want another dog for which I would have to go through the end of life experience again.

Sorry to hear, that’s tough. Our dog was 2 when our first child was born 7 years ago. She is slowing down now a fair bit. Used to be a 3 mile walk twice a day wouldn’t even drain her energy but now a 1 mile walk and she’s ready to curl up and go to sleep.

I dread the future decision we face about euthanasia but I am glad she is in our lives. Euthanasia will always be a complex topic - especially when and if it becomes more common amongst end of life care with humans. I think the conflict will never go, there is always more we can to to prolong life, or money to spend to improve quality of life. It’s something my wife and I discuss with regards to the dog. I believe it will be a very difficult and regretful decision no matter what. Perhaps that is as it should be.

That's right. This study shows that those who have a dog have lower cardiovascular risk. It doesn't show that getting a dog is an effective intervention for lowering cardiovascular risk. We need to be careful about conflating pre-existing factors (already owning a dog) to interventions (going out and buying a dog to try to fix something).

That said, your post talks about stress as a cohesive entity, but there's some research that shows two kinds of stress: distress (negative) and eustress (positive). And there's some evidence linking a few stress factors in your post (having a child, having a dog) to better long-term outcomes.

> conflating pre-existing factors (already owning a dog) to interventions (going out and buying a dog to try to fix something).

This is a really good point.

We often talk about confusing causation with common causality. (I.e. "active people have lower cardio risk and also get dogs" vs. "dogs lower cardio risk"). That's a good thing to check for, and essential to lots of debates. (For example, early data on charter school performance proved hugely distorted by the fact that educationally-engaged parents are the ones who look into charter schools.)

But we tend to forget the subsequent questions: even if an effect is causative in the wild, does that mean it works as intervention? And even if it is an intervention for some people, have the people it helps already found it? (As an extreme example, hypothyroidism is causative in fatigue and depression. Iodized salt is preventative, but not an intervention for severe deficiency - and doctors already check for treating every depressed person with iodine or thyroid hormones would be a terrible approach.)

Dog ownership is probably both common-cause and causative for cardio health. People who walk/run often are more likely to get a dog since their habits accommodate that, but also a dog is likely to push people towards exercise they wouldn't have gotten. As an intervention, though, it's a lot harder to say. Getting a dog changed my exercise behavior for the better specifically in the marginal cases where I would have almost run/walked, then yielded to inertia or poor scheduling. For people who don't lie near that margin, it's much less obvious what effect a dog might have.

So many times this - there are many factors that are correlated to being rich and healthy which are do not present a suitable intervention opportunity.

> Meanwhile, the walks are enjoyable.

Non-dog owners often complain about how much work a dog would be, but I find the time spent walking and playing with my dogs far more enjoyable and rewarding than most things.

I hardly notice my dog when we walk. I'm of course aware he's there, and we exchange looks every now and then to make sure we're still aligned on which way to go, but the thing i enjoy the most about our walks is the total peace and quiet, both of the surroundings, but also of the mind.

I can walk my dog, enjoy nature and just let my mind wander off to whatever it finds most interesting at that point. I don't attempt to control my thoughts, i simply let them wander.

In a way i guess it's like meditation, and yes, i also enjoy walking in the rain, perhaps even more than in fair weather - though 0C and sleet is testing my patience :)

It's not as unintuitive as it sounds...

It seems like a tautology but you have to actually enjoy interacting with dogs to find dog ownership enjoyable and rewarding. Many people just don't find any sort of joy in a dog's company. Personally, I don't really care to be being around dogs, I'd strongly prefer to take walks myself (and I do). The more time I spend with friend's dogs the more I dislike them.

However I absolutely love being around cats and few things are more enjoyable than a cat in my lap.

Horses for courses. I've had both my whole life though presently I have two cats (male siblings). I'd love to get another dog but after having to put down the last two, one due to cancer and the other, a shepard mix, who had Degenerative Myelopathy and could no longer walk, was too much of a mental drain. I don't want to deal with the heartbreak of that again. Plus im high anxiety so it's a maddening panic when it comes down to those decisions. Takes too much out of me.

Cats are easier in some ways (self cleaning, no walking) but they can be a hand full as they can get EVERYWHERE. Nothing is safe from them and they love to play and need attention just as much as a dog. So if you don't play with them, they will find things to play with. That is why they love knocking shit over; they're entertaining themselves and maybe sending us a hint. I kick myself for not leash training them and taking them out with the dogs. The neighbor walks her dog and cat together and the cat seems to enjoy it as much as the dog.

I was a "dog only" type of person until recently (a year ago) I saw this poor cat being hit by a car and left there to die. I quickly took her to the vet and then home.

Now I own two dogs and the cat. The dogs know when it's the time to go out for a walk so I work on side projects at home (coding) between walks. Now it's over, since the cat would come over the keyboard and push her head on my mouse-hand for petting. I can't say no so it became a much needed stress-relief and natural pause from working. I wonder if that accounts into survival studies.

BTW, give dogs a chance :)

I'm exactly the same. I generally hate being around dogs: they're smelly, dirty, and require far too much attention. I really hate it when other peoples' dogs jump up on me when I'm just trying to walk down the sidewalk.

I like to take walks myself too, but in walkable districts downtown usually. I can't take a dog there, because that would require taking a dog on the subway, which isn't allowed (thankfully). I honestly don't see how dogs even make any sense in a city for people who don't have cars. They make some sense I guess as a rural or suburban pet, but lately it seems like every single woman in my city (DC) has one.

> I honestly don't see how dogs even make any sense in a city for people who don't have cars.

Why would you think that dogs that live in the city get any less exercise than a dog who lives in the suburbs or somewhere rural? Often cities are more walkable than the alternative.

>Why would you think that dogs that live in the city get any less exercise than a dog who lives in the suburbs or somewhere rural? Often cities are more walkable than the alternative.

You can't take dogs on the train. So if your apartment is in a nice, walkable place and you don't mind never walking someplace else in the city, then ok. But if you want to walk in a different neighborhood miles away that you need to get to by subway, then forget it; you can't bring your dog there.

I don't even know how you'd get your dog to the vet in a city, unless perhaps you can get an Uber driver to let you bring it in the car with you (not too sure about that; I wouldn't want to ride in an Uber/Lyft after someone had a dog in there, and other customers could very well be allergic, so services like this would be wise to ban dogs).

I guess it depends where you live. My city (SF) allows dogs on public transit in off peak hours. The 24/7 animal hospital is 1.5 miles away from my apartment. If it were a real emergency (minutes to live), I can zipcar or uber since my dog is carrier trained and I'd be happy to pay a $50 tip in exchange for letting us ride for an emergency of that urgency. (As of recently, Uber is piloting a pet-friendly option in select cities as well, although this doesn't apply to me yet). In the suburbs, when I had a car, I lived about 15 miles away from the animal hospital so it's not actually better.

My dog gets significantly more exercise now than when I lived in the suburbs because there are more parks, interesting sights, etc right outside my door and I don't have to drive to them. But otherwise, sure, I'll walk. According to my fitbit I take about 25k - 30k steps a day so walking a little extra to get to a different neighborhood isn't a big deal to me.

Edit: It appears that dogs are allowed on the train/bus in DC if they are in carriers.

>Edit: It appears that dogs are allowed on the train/bus in DC if they are in carriers.

With a "toy" breed, that's easy. With some 80-100 pound dog, good luck with that. I don't know many people capable of lifting that much weight easily, certainly not all the single women in this area that have big dogs.

That seems fair? They might have cars then. It seems you're imaging a scenario of a specific single woman with slight muscle mass with her 100lb dog and no car living in the heart of DC. I'm sure there are a few but I doubt that's the norm.

One of the reasons I don't have a dog is because I live in a city. You can't let a dog of the leash and let it run about in a city.

Hm, maybe I just got lucky, but there were multiple fenced in parks near my apartment in Seattle that allowed dogs to be off leash. In addition my dogs love to run with me in cooler months.

In any case they were pretty satisfied with walks 90% of the time- of course this is going to vary by breed but I absolutely advocate for getting a dog that fits your lifestyle.

Well, of course someone who doesn't like dogs isn't going to enjoy walking dogs :)

I have two dogs and love them dearly, but dogs really are a lot of work for their first few years. The first dog we got of this pair was a rescue that was almost a year old. They believe she was on the streets for a lot of her life, and she was pretty under weight when we got her. She had numerous issues we had to slowly work through. A few examples: - She would eat her food so fast she would vomit. issue fixed by introducing a slow-feeding bowl. - She would drink all the water in her bowl at once, which led to her having to pee often in a short time. This meant a lot of accidents until we learned to deal with it. Solved by giving her less water. Even with less water, we still took her outside to pee almost on the hour every hour for months. This wasn't very fun, since we lived on the 4th floor of an apartment at the time. - When in wide open spaces she would get incredibly anxious and run in circles/jump around to try and get away. This took months to fix and was just solved with patience basically. If you got mad or anxious yourself, she would sense it and get worse.

These are just a handful of the issues we had with this dog, with many more I didn't mention. After two years, this dog is completely changed. She is much less anxious, eats and drinks normal, and is incredibly intelligent. Non-dog owners complain about how much work a dog would be, because dogs are a ton of work. Eventually you get to a point where they mature, and you both learn how to work with one another, but it takes time and work to get there. With all of that said, once you get to that point, it's an incredible experience. The dog I mentioned here was a ton of work, but I would do it all over again without question.

>My experience is that a dog requires a minimum of 45 minutes walking a day, day in, day out, for years on end.

Bragging time:

You haven't met my dog. He takes maybe 10min/day (and that's being generous) (washing him weekly amortizes to ~5min or so). Walking adds time on top of that but is not strictly necessary. If you don't walk him he'll laze about in his corner like he always does but eat less. He won't even let you know that he needs to go to the bathroom other than perking up his head when you walk through and if the "wrong" person tries to let him out he'll hold it until you clip on a leash and drag him out or the "right" person shows up.

What breed?

Unknown hound mutt. He's at least 6yr old.

> My experience is that a dog requires a minimum of 45 minutes walking a day, day in, day out, for years on end.

What breeds have you had? My family has two Havanese (https://www.akc.org/dog-breeds/havanese/) dogs and they tend to not want more than 20-30 minutes of walking a day. Once you get to that point they get exhausted and want you to carry them. On the other hand my dad's Plot hound will go on walks for hours at a time.

Smaller dogs don't need as long usually. They have shorter legs so it's more of a workout for them to walk around the block than it is for larger dogs. Just think about how many times their little legs have to step to keep up with one of your steps. Obviously there is some breed variance as well.

I have two German Shepherd dogs. They're getting older (9.5 years) but we've found that their ideal is two 45 minute walks. My partner takes them for a 45 minute walk in the morning and I take them for a 45 minute walk in the afternoon when I get home from work. We're fortunate to have a large backyard as well, so I also throw the ball for them after the afternoon walk until they lay down in the grass and don't want to play anymore.

This is _so_ wrong. My dog loves walks, but only for so many minutes before she wants to just lay down. We have 1/2 acre outside, accessible 24/7 to her via dog door but even then she barely goes outside except to do her business or check if any bunnies have made out. When we do know that there will be someone in our back yard (locates or maintenance), we leave the dog door closed.

She has urinated/defecated in the house maybe 10 times in the 5 years we've had her and most of those were in the first 12 months. She requires very little walking and is very housebroken. Worst thing that happens these days is a couple of times a year she pukes in the house, but even then we have her trained to puke in our walk in shower.

She also will just lay in our yard when other people/dogs walk by, so long as they do not enter our yard. She will not bark or enter guard dog mode until the lights are off and we're in bed. After that she will guard the front door and only bark if someone is in our yard. She is great with kids and other dogs. Only thing she is not great with is cats. She's also a herding dog (bouvier des flanders) and will reliably have my mom's chickens herded within 1 minute of arriving at my parents' place.

I'm pretty sure we won the dog lottery with her. I understand you're just generalizing, but let it be known that it's possible for some dogs to just be awesome. I think breed has a lot to do with it.

What breed is she out of interest? My Parents are on their third Aireldale - they have great personalities, but also require a fair bit of time and energy - something I don't have enough of at present for owning one.

She is a bouvier de flanders. She doesn't require much time or energy, though when we were choosing her there was a mix of bouviers and I'd say half of them were higher energy and half were lower.

Depends on the breed. Some don’t want, much less need that much.

You are making the mistake I made. You don't know dogs, you know a breed (or two). The exercise requirements for dogs radically vary and some wouldn't walk 45 minutes or more without being dragged.

Dogs are just like people... some will go crazy if not running long distances every day.... other are perfectly happy to be lazy on a couch all day.

Some need the stimulation of exploring larger areas... others will mostly ignore whatever yard they have.

I had 3 goldens retreivers over the last 30 years or so, all quite unique dogs. They varied quite a bit, goldens are really two different breeds, the show line (heavier, broader, longer hair, giant flags, etc) and the hunting line (thinner, shorter hair, narrower shoulders, and longer legs). But I was unprepared for a english pointer. I thought I knew dogs, turns out I knew Goldens.

I thought Goldens were active and liked to run, but nothing compared to our English pointer... not even close.

Just the other day someone brought their dog in for coworking. Most dogs, if you give them your palm they will sniff and lick at it and it will be cute. But this was a timberwolf-husky breed and he got SO excited at my hand that he quickly progressed to cramming as much of my forearm in his mouth as he could fit(which was somewhere between a third to half of it, coming in from a side angle). Given his size it was slightly worrisome, but he was gentle and left only the smallest of marks. Then he jumped up and slobbered my face to complete the job.

At the same time, this dog wasn't so cooped up and energetic that he could not control himself, and he napped a good deal of the time. He was clearly getting bored at his sleep-deprived owner still sitting around in a beanbag chair working and barked that this was not acceptable, but his interest was maintained by meeting the new people and smells in the space.

It was just a great reminder of how varied breeds and individuals are. I've met rescue wolves and they are extremely shy, requiring total stillness to get any trust; little dogs tend to be domineering yappers; show breeds are often anxious. Of the lot, the "working dogs" are probably the ones that are hardest to keep up with daily, since they need either plenty of exercise or stimulation or both.

Now I want to see this study broken down by dog breed, or at least dog size. I also want to see "living in a home with a dog" broken out from "being primary owner of a dog". The extreme cases are very different: if you live alone with a Border Collie, you're certainly going to be doing a lot of cardiovascular exercise; while if your roommate has a Pekingese, you might take it around the block occasionally when they're busy.

I'm pretty confident that the Collie would be associated with improved cardiac outcomes, but it seems very possible that the Pekingese would too. There's decent evidence that adequate sleep on a regular schedule improves heart health, and even dogs that need minimal exercise can remind you about bedtime and breakfast time. And of course, having a dog probably lowers stress levels (in people who choose to get dogs), which is a straightforward improvement.

So how do you explain the 35% risk reduction for people who just live with a dog, not owners? Owners had a smaller risk reduction.

In my periods of sadness I wouldn't have left the house if it weren't for my dog. And in all other times she's the reason I take the bicycle to the beach or the woods. Even after 2 years I still melt seeing her joy when running around free in a good environment. Living in a city means I must move to get to that environment.

Anybody have ready comparison numbers for "modern miracles" like statins and ACE inhibitors? Because 24% reduction in mortality is, in medicine, a staggering number when you're looking at something as prevalent as heart disease (roughly 50% of people will die of an heart attack).

Edit, here's some starters:

ACE inhibitors: 5% (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23750680)

Statins: no benefit (https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/fullar...)

Aspirin: might actually be bad for you (https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1803955)

Well, to start, you can't compare an intervention (starting an ACE inhibitor treatment) to an existent factor (they already own a dog). If you're going to compare apples to apples, you've got to compare starting an ACE inhibitor treatment to starting to own a dog.

It may sound farfetched, but there's nothing in the OP that indicates the direction of causality to me, so it's possible that lower cardiovascular risk causes people to go out and get dogs, or that there's some root cause which causes people to both have lower cardiovascular risk and higher chance of owning a dog.

Only a matter of time until the U.S. government classifies dogs as a "Schedule I Substance" and these positive health-related research statistics begin to disappear.

People who have the means to own and care for a dog will probably have a better diet, less stress, more time to exercise and go to the doctor. I doubt dogs have a magical health aura.

They have. Having to walk them turns every couch potato into someone who is spending, depending on size & agility of the dog, 30min to 2h outdoors , walking. Every single day.

They also tend to pester you for food or walks roughly at the same times every day, so, no matter how irregular your lifestyle was, there suddenly is a wireless alarm clock all day. Every single day. (Kids are much better at this, though).

In the EU and US at least, you can get this all for free: Sign up as a volunteer at the next animal shelter, commit to walking one of their dogs twice a day, 7 days a week :)

Isn't that only people who have a dog in an apartment? For people who have a house with a backyard the dog walks and runs around in the backyard. Growing up at least that was the norm in my neighborhood. Lots of neighbors and us included had a dog, rarely saw people walking them. We played with our dogs often as kids but taking them for a walk was rare.

This is purely anecdotal and dependent on location/neighborhood. In my suburban ‘hood with white picket fences, you see people walking dogs everyday - and we’re not an exactly good example of a walkable neighborhood.

Kinda, my family dog lives on a farm and has free reign (eg, no fenced backyard). He just goes in and out as he pleases, but he still gets super excited when you take him for a walk.

It's so true. Without dog I'd probably spend most of my free time sitting on the couch playing games/ watching TV. But now I'm "forced" to go for at least one long walk, no matter the weather :).

Additionally coming home and having someone who's happy to see you helps forget about all the work-induced stress.

So the question the, becomes - if you own a dog, but someone else in the family walks/feeds it - are there any health benefits?

If not, you have a study showing that 'Dog ownership promotes regular healthy walking'.

I think that commenters are assuming that dog walking is the benefit.

That’s a factor, but a few studies have shown association with a dog in a household (not ownership) has positive effect.

Companionship is a key factor with dogs and a key deficiency in many people. The human-dog relationship is unique because we snap into the dogs innate pack structure. Dogs want to take care of us, and that brings joy.

I’ve seen it with elderly folks and my own son. Our family dog made herself my son’s training wheels when he was learning to walk.

This is true, but your experience isn't mutually exclusive with my statement. People who are destitute often don't have the resources to keep a healthy dog. You are, as I imagine (and please correct me if I am wrong) well off and can afford to spend 30min - 2 hours a day walking your dog.

I am working 40h/week as a software developer for a non-profit... Whether I spend 6h/day thinking hard about problems[1] at my desk or on the sofa or while walking a dog makes no difference w.r.t. but a lot for health and general well-being.

[1] I vehemently believe in the "80% thinking, 10% cooding, 10% testing" idea of software development.

Does the person in question spend 30min-2hrs a day watching TV?

> Having to walk them turns every couch potato into someone who is spending, depending on size & agility of the dog, 30min to 2h outdoors , walking. Every single day.

You have a wildly optimistic view of the average dog owner's level of responsibility and proactive care.

Just like parents with children, plenty would prioritise feeding the dog well over themselves. I'd do it myself. When I was a student, I have a few times. A healthy happy dog is a huge influence on my sanity, stress. The weather may be horrible out, but the dog will still love it if it's blowing a gale, freezing or tipping down. Without the dog I'd skip those trips.

The payback was huge, and magical. With PAT (pets as therapy) dogs there have been other studies, that show even temporary access to a dog for an hour in a hospital ward shows benefits. Like lowering heart rate just by patting or stroking it.

As an aside, emotional well being I believe (though I don't have any papers) is linked to improved health. Dog owners, unsurprisingly enjoy dogs. So to a degree, the dogs do have a magic aura.

I don't own one currently but I absolutely adore them. I imagine my stress levels drop significantly every time I'm admiring one at the park.

While it is of course not "magic", I think you're over simplifying the impact of positive factors in peoples lives.

Homeless people I see (or people that appear to be that way) always seem to have the nicest looking dogs here in Europe.

Probably because people are more inclined to give something to the dog of a homeless person vs the homeless person. I am certainly that way. So you have a dog that’s well fed and spends the whole day running around outside. Pretty good life for a dog.

Maybe, but dogs can also be incredibly loyal. They will stick by you when no one else will.

Dogs offer intuition, protection, and companionship where humans will not, for homeless.

Do the owners tend to look healthier for their demographic? I bet keeping a high morale probably contributes to better health outcomes as well, and dogs can be good for high morale.

It never really occurred to me to compare them before. Not necessarily from memory.

Disagree. I would spend all my afternoons indoors unless I had a dog. Having to walk it no less than half an hour a day means I'm forced to do some sort of exercise that I wouldn't do otherwise.

Yes okay, but the magic bullet here isn't the dog its the means to have an animal who gets you out of the house and walking.

Good point! So, in reality, it isn't the dog, it's what you do when you're a dog owner. I think that's why they phrased the paper with "dog ownership", implying that the main condition for improved health isn't the dog itself, but your routines as owner of one.

Dogs require frequent walks if you don't plan on cleaning your floors/carpets daily.

Could it just not be that people who own and _care_ for a dog get exercise daily, as opposed to just sitting in a couch binging netflix all day ?

Recent studies have proved that walking is a great source of exercise, and depending on dog size you get 2-10km walks per day (1-6 freedom units)

Oh is freedom unit a mile? That’s funny.

Dog ownership (I should say, pet ownership) is disproportionately something for poor(er) people. 25% of all household here (.nl) have pets, but out of poor households, 60% do.

I see hobos with dogs.

This might have been your point, but it would indeed be interesting to know whether they have better or worse health outcomes than those without dogs.


>One of the purposes of the dog is to discourage arrest for petty offences

Also works great for letting you trespass anywhere you could conceivably want to walk a dog that isn't obviously posted.

I recently got a "rescue" and she is something else. It's difficult to think of them as just animals.

Sometimes I feel guilty for being stressed, I feel like she's soaking it all up and I'm stressing her out.

Incredibly empathetic animals.

They are more than animals in that they're one of the only animals that would be considered a family member. Really makes you consider whether "love" is a noun or a verb.

Honestly, I used to say things like "I understand you care about your pets, but you should not love them equal to a human. We should be aware of how we value animals compared to humans."

Then I got a dog.


I'm sure this is legit but I wonder how they controlled for people who just go for a walk and/or get exercise every day even if they don't have a dog?

But no disagreement, if you're a couch potato who is not otherwise motivated to go for a walk the dog will be an ultra powerful motivator, and you're not going for a walk alone.

Yeah, I've always said the best exercise plan I ever started was getting a dog who had severe separation anxiety and would destroy all my shit if left alone even briefly without adequate exercise (and he's a young husky mix, so we're talking 5+ brisk miles).

He's doing much better with the anxiety now, but we're still walking miles every day.

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.

> dog ownership was associated with a 24% risk reduction for all-cause mortality

What does that mean? Do dog owners have only 76% chance of dying, as opposed to 100% like the rest of us? I'm probably misinterpreting the statement...

Usually, in survival analysis, it means that at any point in time, the likelihood of an event (e.g. death, heart-disease, whatever they're measuring) occurring for dog-owners is 76% of that of non-dog owners. The risk varies from time to time, e.g. with age, and it's 76% of that risk. If the risk at a certain point is 10% for non-dog owners, it's 7.6% for dog owners. It's not like dog people are immortal.

> It's not like dog people are immortal.

Depends on how many dogs you own. With enough dogs, you can invert your death likelihood stats. Though, I imagine that would mean as you age, you buy more dogs.

Moving to the country seems required to house all of the dogs. Furthermore, the number of dogs would depend on how the math worked on the 76% of risk. Perhaps for true immortality we'd need an infinite number of dogs.

The bad part about a dog is that it will only be around for 8-15 years.

To love is to accept suffering.

Huh, is this a quote from somewhere?

Not that I'm aware of, it's just how it is. Everything is ephemeral, so we allow ourselves to love in the knowledge that it is not forever, and that when it ends, no matter how it ends, it will be painful. To love something is to extend your concept of self to encompass it, and when it is gone it will be as though a piece of yourself has been torn from you. We accept this inevitability regardless, because to love is better than the alternative.

That's also the good part, sometimes.

Had to walk my dog after dinner for atleast 30mins EVERY SINGLE DAY while he was around. That itself should account for this.

The way you say that makes me think you underestimated having a dog, or somehow think that your dog in particular was hard work..

I actually didnt go out and got a dog for myself - I somehow got possession of him through a coincidental sequence of events.

I didn't mean that my dog in particular was hard work - I guess all dogs are like this and which is why they accrue the claimed health benefits to their caretakers.

I found a dog about 7 months ago in the streets on the beach in my hometown in Brazil and moved to the Netherlands three weeks ago with him.

After a couple of weeks taking care of him (and trying to find the previous owner - who might have abandoned him or not), I was very attached. Actually, during my last job interview for my current job here in NL, I was cuddling him as I spoke with the interviewers (my current coworkers). Not sure if that helped, but for sure, I felt more confident and calm. Once I accepted their offer, I knew I just couldn't leave him behind.

So healthy people like to own dogs?

In related news, walking one or two times per day, for any duration, reduces cardiovascular disease.

Slightly off-topic, but I am looking into good ways to train a dog (books, etc). Anybody has any recommendation?

Find a local dog trainer! They're worth every penny.

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