The Latest Research on Pets and Seniors



Dogs—and other pets—are man’s best friends at any age, according to a recent report from the National Poll on Healthy Aging.


The poll was conducted by the University of Michigan and sponsored by the AARP and Michigan Medicine, surveyed 2,051 adults between the ages of 50 and 80.  It found that 55 percent of older adults have a pet, and 88 percent of pet owners said their animals helped them enjoy life more.


Other key findings of the poll include:


• A majority of pet owners (86 percent) said that their pets made them feel loved.


• Almost the same number (79 percent) also reported that their animals were a significant stress reliever.


• Two-thirds of pet parents, including 78 percent of dog owners, said their pets help them stay physically active.


• Over 70 percent of older adults said their fur babies help them cope with physical and emotional issues.


• Forty-six percent of respondents in poor physical health reported that their pets help keep their mind off of their chronic pain.


• Over half (65 percent) of pet parents also said that having a pet helps them relate to other people.


“We have long known that pets are a common and naturally occurring source of support,” said Cathleen Connell, a professor at the U-M School of Public Health in a statement. “Helping older adults find low-cost ways to support pet ownership while not sacrificing other important relationships and priorities is an investment in overall mental and physical health.”


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