We have known for a long time that dogs make you happier, but now there’s science to back it up. Two new studies conducted by the American Heart Association confirmed our suspicions that dog ownership comes with several benefits, including an increased chance of a longer life.

Among survivors of heart attacks or strokes, researchers found that dog owners experienced lower rates of death. Compared with non-dog owners who were part of the study, those who owned dogs had a “better outcome after a major cardiovascular event.” The study did not provide an exact explanation for this correlation, but it’s believed that increased physical activity and the decrease in loneliness associated with dog ownership is the cause.

In a statement for the American Heart Association, Dr. Glenn N. Levine said, “These two studies provide good, quality data indicating dog ownership is associated with reduced cardiac and all-cause mortality. While these non-randomized studies cannot ‘prove’ that adopting or owning a dog directly leads to reduced mortality, these robust findings are certainly at least suggestive of this.”

According to a second scientific review, analyzing data on 3.8 million patients from several other studies, dog owners experienced a 24 percent lower risk of death from all causes than those without a dog, a 65 percent reduced risk of death after a heart attack, and a 31 percent reduced risk following other cardiovascular problems.

So if you really needed another excuse to get a dog…now you have it.