SPOKANE, Wash. — A study published by the American Heart Association suggests that dogs may not just be man's best friend, but may end up saving your life.

The study said that dog ownership is associated with a 33 percent lower risk of death for heart attack survivors living alone and a 27 percent reduced risk of death for stroke survivors living alone.

Dog ownership was also shown to be associated with a 24 percent reduced risk of death by any cause, according to the study. This goes up to a 31 percent reduced chance of death by heart attack or stroke compared to those who don't own a dog.

One reason for these results may be dog owners experiencing less social isolation than those living alone without pets.

"We know that social isolation is a strong risk factor for worse health outcomes and premature death," said Dr. Tove Fall, a professor at Uppsala University in Sweden. "Furthermore, keeping a dog is a good motivation for physical activity, which is an important factor in rehabilitation and mental health."

While is likely just seems like icing on the cake for dog owners, doctors warn that more research needs to be done before it can be confirmed that dogs are the reason for the lowered chance of death and increased health benefits. 

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