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Dog People Live Longer. But Why?

Hugging a dog is one life’s greatest joys. Getting to see fur on four legs and a wagging tail is like experiencing a love drug — quite literally.

Dogs and humans that interact with one another get a jolt of oxytocin, the so-called “cuddle hormone.” And, if you get to look at dogs and hug them every day, you just might live longer than people who don’t have to clean animal hair off their clothes, according to a pair of studies out this month.

The studies, published in the journal Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes, suggest that dog ownership is linked to a 21% reduction in the risk of death — over the 12-year period studied — for people with heart disease. Those studies complement a body of literature linking dogs to good health.

Dr. Dhruv Kazi, a cardiologist and health economist at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School, wrote an accompanying editorial for the new studies but was not involved with the research.

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