Study Finds Pet Ownership May Help Prevent Cognitive Decline As We Age

Science is finally starting to prove what pet owners knew all along: Having pets is healthy for our brains!

For a long time, there was largely anecdotal evidence suggesting pet ownership offered benefits for human health but some studies have since been done on the matter. Research now shows petting dogs is good for your brain and dog owners are happier than people without dogs.

Photo: Pexels/Ron Lach

It seems there’s a new study on the block that’s also supporting the notion that pet ownership has benefits, particularly as we age.

The study, “The Impact of Sustained Ownership of a Pet on Cognitive Health: A Population-Based Study,” was published in the Journal of Aging and Health in 2022.

Photo: Pexels/Quang Nguyen Vinh

In the study, researchers from the University of Michigan found a positive correlation between pet ownership and health.

According to the research, extended pet ownership was linked with better cognition in adults over the age or 65.

To make the correlation, researchers analyzed data from over 20,000 senior adults. Over the span of 6 years, participants were prompted to answer questions about their pets. They were also given multiple cognitive tests at different times in the 6-year span, testing short and long-term memory.

Photo: Pexels/Efrem Efre

As it turns out, individuals who claimed to own a pet for 5+ years consistently scored better on the cognitive tests than their pet-less counterparts.

While the study doesn’t prove that pet ownership causes stronger mental cognition as we age, it sure does offer a correlation between the two! It could be that pet owners get more exercise or feel less lonely. It’ll be interesting to see what deeper research on the topic has to say about it.

People, Pets & Planet

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