The secret to unleashing a longer life and healthier heart

Whether you’re single by choice or by circumstance, there are a lot of benefits to cruising through life solo…

You’re more likely to maintain healthy friendships. You have more freedom to pursue your dreams and travel. You have the whole bed to yourself… and you’re never stuck listening to another person’s snoring.

But despite the many benefits of single living, single people get the short end of the stick in one area — health.

Studies show that married people live longer, have fewer strokes and heart attacks, and are more likely to survive cancer or major operations.

But if you prefer the single life, don’t sign up for a dating website just yet. There is something you can do to stay healthy…

Get a dog.

Studies show a canine companion may be all you need to give your health a little boost.

Dogs are doggone good for you

A recent study from researchers at Uppsala University in Sweden found that dog ownership comes with major health benefits… especially you’re single.

The study tracked the health of 3.4 million people over 12 years using Sweden’s national health registries. And researchers concluded that single people who own dogs have a 33 percent lower risk of premature death and an 11 percent lower risk of cardiovascular disease compared to single people who don’t own dogs.

This is big news considering premature death and cardiovascular disease are two of the biggest health downsides of the single life. So why is a canine companion so good for single people?

Well, the study didn’t delve into why dogs do wonders for heart health and lifespan, but researchers have a few guesses:

  • Dog-owners tend to be more active. Those daily dog walks do your body good!
  • Dogs may count toward your social interaction quota. People who socialize more are healthier, and that may extend to socialization with animals too.
  • Dogs may have a positive effect on your microbiome. Dogs expose you to all sorts of new and interesting bacteria—and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It could diversify your microbiome in a positive way.

Taking the plunge into pet-ownership

So should you head to your local animal shelter and find yourself a canine companion?

It’s definitely worth considering — but only if you love dogs, of course. Owning a dog is a big responsibility, so you don’t want to go into it impulsively or half-heartedly.

If you do decide to get a dog, there’s one other finding from the study that may help you decide what kind to get. Researchers found that people who had hunting dog breeds had bigger health benefits—maybe because these dogs have higher exercise needs. Some popular hunting breeds include:

  • Labrador retrievers
  • Golden retrievers
  • Flat-coated retrievers
  • Beagles
  • Bassett hounds
  • Brittany spaniels
  • Dachshunds
  • Fox terriers
  • Jack Russell terriers
  • Rat terriers
  • Weimaraners
  • Welsh corgis

And if you’re more of a cat person, don’t worry. A previous study showed that cat owners have a 30 percent lower risk of dying from a heart attack or stroke than people who don’t own cats. So it seems the love of a pet is all you need to make your single life a bit healthier.

Editor’s note: One thing you might consider is adopting a senior pet. Dogs and cats can live anywhere from 10 to 20 years, sometimes even longer. And plenty of senior pets are displaced when their owners can no longer care for them. A senior pet may mean a shorter commitment but boatloads of benefits.


  1. The health advantages of marriage — Harvard Medical School. Retrieved November 20, 2017.
  2. Dog ownership linked to lower mortality — MedicalXpress. Retrieved November 20, 2017.
  3. List of Hunting Dog Breeds — Dog Breed Info Center. Retrieved November 20, 2017.
  4. Cat Owners Have Lower Heart Attack Risk, Study — Medical News Today. Retrieved November 20, 2017.
  5. Mubanga, et al. “Dog ownership and the risk of cardiovascular disease and death – a nationwide cohort study.” — Scientific Reports, 2017.
Jenny Smiechowski

By Jenny Smiechowski

Jenny Smiechowski is a Chicago-based freelance writer who specializes in health, nutrition and the environment. Her work has appeared in online and print publications like Chicagoland Gardening magazine, Organic Lifestyle Magazine, BetterLife Magazine,, and