In a review of 10 studies—published between 1950 and 2019—that included 3.8 million people, researchers found that dog owners had a 24% lower risk of dying than nonowners during follow-up periods averaging 10 years. Among heart attack survivors, dog owners had a 65% lower death risk. And dog owners in general had a 31% lower risk of dying from any cardiovascular-related disease. More physical activity plays a key role in cardiovascular benefits. For those who can’t own a dog, most shelters have walking programs for volunteers.

The study was published in Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes (2019; 12 [10], e005554).