Study Claims Older Dog Owners Are At Lower Risk Of Disability

Daniel Mitchell-Benoit
A dog being walked
Unsplash | Michael Myers

Dog lovers are often dog lovers for life. They commit to bringing dogs into their homes and families for as long as they're able to, providing decades of love.

However, there's no denying that dogs can be a little tougher to care for as one gets older, namely because they need a lot of activity. A new study suggests that owning dogs into old age actually has its benefits, though, and can leave you at a lower risk of developing a disability.

A study in Japan looked at the way pet ownership can affect our wellbeing.

A man and his dog sitting on a curb.
Unsplash | Roman Davydko

The study interviewed 11,233 Japanese adults aged 65 to 84 who were either cat or dog owners, and the most shocking find was that current dog owners are almost half as likely to have a disability compared to people who had never owned a dog.

And this remained true across all measurable factors that could influence health.

A cat laying on a couch and a dog sitting behind it.
Unsplash | Tran Mau Tri Tam

It's not just owning the pet that provides that health boost, as the study found that current cat owners did not receive the same benefits.

So, if it's not the act of having a pet around, what could be the cause?

Turns out it's not the social aspect, but the physical aspect.

A dog and owner walk next to sunflowers.
Unsplash | Delphine Beausoleil

The study suggests that what links dog ownership to less risk of disability among owners is that the care needed for dogs requires their owners to be more active, thus keeping them moving and less susceptible to fragility or atrophy.

The study doesn't just recommend owning a dog to delay the onset of health issues.

A dog being walked.
Unsplash | Michael Myers

Of course, they state that dog ownership combined with regular exercise could be a combo that largely benefits people as they age. They also only conducted this study in Japan, so for all we know, it could be a regional specificity.

Still, hearing that there's yet another benefit to having dogs around is always welcome!

h/t: IFLScience

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