Our fluffy, four-legged friends are much more than just great company.
A recent Swedish study has revealed that owning a dog could reduce your risk of getting heart disease.
The study of over 3 million people between the age of 40 and 80 revealed that owning a dog was associated with a 23% reduction in heart disease.
It also showed a 20% lower risk of dying from any cause throughout the 12 year duration of the study, according to The Irish Times.
Dog owners proved to respond better to stress. They also had lower cholesterol levels and higher levels of physical activity.
The lead author of the study and professor of epidemiology at Uppsala University, Tove Fall, said the team tried their best to allow for possible differences in education, lifestyle and existing bad health between those who owned dogs and those who did not.
The study revealed that the most positive impact of having a dog was on those who live alone, narrowing the risk of dying from a cardiovascular disease by 36%.
Although they did not prove as beneficial in multi-person homes, the survey found that in larger families, owning a dog could still cut the risk of death by heart disease by 15%.
Fall said: ‘It seems that a dog can be a substitute for living with other people in terms of reducing the risk of dying’.
She added: ‘Dogs encourage you to walk, they provide social support and they make life more meaningful. If you have a dog, you interact more with other people. If you do get ill and go into hospital and you have a dog, there’s a huge motivation to try to get back home.’
The study found that the breeds that came with the most benefit to their owners were pointers and retrievers.