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If you’re a cat person, this news might not sit well. New research suggests that dog owners have a lower risk of death due to cardiovascular disease than non dog-owners.

Say what?!

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“The results showed that single dog owners had a 33 percent reduction in risk of death and 11 percent reduction in risk of cardiovascular disease during follow-up compared to single non-owners,” said Mwenya Mubanga, the study’s lead junior author and PhD student.

Mubanga and her team at Sweden’s Uppsala University used information on the registries of over 3.4 million Swedes between the ages of 40 and 80 to uncover the link, which is not only fascinating, but also places another arrow in the quiver of anyone arguing the canine component of the great cats vs. dogs debate. Because everyone wants to live longer, right?

Side note: Sweden is very good at registries, tracking everything from hospital visits to, yup, dog ownership with personal identity numbers.

As for why those with canine companionship seem to outlast those without, the study’s senior author and Associate Professor in Epidemiology at the university, Tove Fall, has his theories.

“These kind of epidemiological studies look for associations in large populations but do not provide answers on whether and how dogs could protect from cardiovascular disease,” she Tove. “We know that dog owners in general have a higher level of physical activity, which could be one explanation to the observed results. Other explanations include an increased well-being and social contacts or effects of the dog on the bacterial microbiome in the owner.” There are downsides to dog ownership, of course — which cat owners love to point out — like having to pick up their poo every time they go. Although, picking up a bit of dog poo feels like a reasonable tradeoff for not dying.

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