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Dog Ownership and Survival | Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes

Animal companionship, in particular canine, has become increasingly common. Half of the households in the United Kingdom own pets, 1 and the most recent National Pet Owners Survey 2 demonstrated that 68% of US households own a pet, with 48% owning 1 dogs. The recognized health benefits of dog ownership include reduced risk of asthma and allergic rhinitis in children exposed to pets during early ages, 3 improvement in wellbeing and alleviation of social isolation in elderly individuals, 4 and increased physical activity. 5 , 6 Notably the main positive impact of dog ownership seems to be in relation to cardiovascular risk as a series of studies in recent years have suggested an association of dog ownership with lower blood pressure levels, 7 improved lipid profile, 8 and diminished sympathetic responses to stress. 9 The recognition of potential benefits of the animal-human interaction in cardiovascular disease has been reflected in a scientific statement by the American Heart Association in 2013 which concluded that dog ownership is probably associated with decreased cardiovascular risk. 10