You already know that your four-legged friend comes with plenty of snuggle perks, but now researchers have revealed that there’s yet another super-cool benefit of dog ownership. According to a Swedish study published in Scientific Reports, having a dog could actually help you live longer. Um. Whoa.
Scientists looked at more than 3.4 million people over a 12-year period and reviewed their health and dog ownership records. (All hospital visits are tracked in Sweden and registering as a dog owner is mandatory.) What they found was that the people who owned dogs had a lower risk of cardiovascular disease than non-owners, as well as a lower risk of death from other causes. This was true even after researchers took other health-related factors into account such as smoking and body mass index.
The reasons why pups provide this benefit aren’t exactly clear, however researchers speculate that it may have something to do with how dogs provide social support and motivation to stay physically active. A dog’s natural germs may also boost its owner’s immune system.
So there you have it. Run—don’t walk—to your nearest pet rescue.