People who own dogs are more likely to survive heart attacks and strokes than people who don’t, according to new research published by the American Heart Association. The findings — produced by a clinical study, and a separate large-scale analysis of existing data — build on previous research and confirm the health benefits of dog ownership.

Dog ownership was associated with a 33 per cent lower risk of death for heart attack survivors living alone, and a 27 per cent reduced risk of death for stroke survivors living alone, compared to people who did not own a dog.

Glenn Levine, from the American Heart Association, said the studies provided “good, quality data. While these non-randomised studies cannot ‘prove’ that adopting or owning a dog directly leads to reduced mortality, these robust findings are certainly at least suggestive of this.”

Dog owners are likely to exercise regularly and to have lower blood pressure, according to Caroline Kramer, assistant Professor of Medicine at the University of Toronto (and the proud owner of a miniature schnauzer called Romeo).

“I can say that adopting Romeo has increased my physical activity each day, and filled my daily routine with joy and unconditional love.” – dpa