Dog ownership and all-cause mortality in a population cohort in Norway: The HUNT study.
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Objective There has been increased interest in human-animal interactions and their possible effects on human health. Some of this research has focused on human physical activity levels, mediated through increased dog walking. Much of the reported research has been cross sectional, and very few epidemiological studies have examined the association between dog ownership and mortality in populations. Methods We used data from the Norwegian county population-based Nord-Trøndelag HUNT Study (HUNT2, 1995–1997). Cox proportional hazards models were fitted to analyse the relationship between dog ownership and all-cause mortality. The median follow-up time was 18.5 years and the maximum follow-up time was 19.7 years. Results In this population, dog owners were no more physically active than non-dog owners, both groups reporting a total of just over 3 hours/week of light and vigorous activity. Dog owners (n = 25,031, with 1,587 deaths during follow-up; 504,017 person-years of time at risk) had virtually the same hazard of dying as non-dog owners (Hazard ratio 1.00, 95% CI 0.91–1.09). Conclusions We found no evidence for an association between the presence of a dog in the household and all-cause mortality or physical activity levels in this Norwegian population. Further epidemiological research is needed to clarify this relationship, as methodological limitations and an active Norwegian population sample means that generalizable evidence is not yet clear on dog ownership and mortality.