photo: Pixabay

If you have a furry, four-legged family member, then you already know just how much joy pets can bring, but science has just given you one more reason to love that cuddly pup. According to new research, your dog can help you live longer.

Researchers at Uppsala University in Sweden recently published the results of their study, which found that having a canine companion was linked to having a longer life. The study analyzed data from over three million people over 12 years. The results of their findings focused specifically on the connection between dog ownership and cardiovascular disease, which is the leading cause of death worldwide. In both single and multiple person households, dog ownership was associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and a lower risk of death. Dog ownership of hunting breeds in particular was associated with the lowest risk of cardiovascular disease.

The researchers believe that the connection might stem from the fact that owning a dog is associated with increased physical activity. This would also explain why hunting breeds offered the biggest decrease in risk, since they often require more exercise than other types of dogs.

Do you have a family dog? Tell us how your family spends time with your pets in the comments below.