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Owning a Dog Reduces Dementia Risk by 40% for the Elderly

By: MerxWire

A Japanese study shows that older people who own dogs have a lower risk of developing dementia than those who don’t, but no significant effect was found from owning cats.

Taking care of dogs can help people stay healthy and provide social opportunities. (Photo via

Boston, MA (Merxwire) – It is widely believed that owning a dog has numerous mental health benefits, including stress reduction and alleviation of anxiety and depression. However, a new study reveals another benefit of dog ownership. Experts indicate that older adults who own dogs are more likely to reduce their risk of dementia than those who own cats.

Currently, more than 55 million people worldwide have dementia, and the number continues to rise. The number is expected to reach more than 152 million in 2050. A recent Japanese study surveyed nearly 12,000 Tokyo residents aged 65 to 84 who owned pets. It examined their physical, social and psychological conditions and found that dog owners were less likely to develop dementia than non-dog owners—40%.

It was found that dog owners who exercised and did not isolate themselves from society had a significantly lower risk of developing dementia. Dr Yu Taniguchi, the study’s lead author, believes that dog owners can habitually exercise because dogs can complete at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity when walking their dogs every week, 2.5 times that of ordinary people. While walking dogs, people can build new connections, increase opportunities for social interaction, and improve mental health, two key factors that significantly reduce the risk of dementia for elders who own dogs.

Dog owners have more exercise and social interaction opportunities, resulting in greater happiness than those without pets. (Photo via

Interestingly, the study found that even dog owners who did not exercise regularly or participate in social activities still experienced a protective effect against dementia, although to a lesser degree than those who did. However, owning a cat was ineffective in preventing dementia since cat owners do not walk their cats, nor do cats facilitate social interactions as dogs do.

Owning a dog has many benefits. Many modern individuals prefer not to marry or have children, opting instead to raise pets, making “fur babies” essential family members. However, anyone considering getting a dog must carefully contemplate this significant responsibility. Once a dog is brought home, it must be cared for until old age, ensuring one becomes a responsible dog owner.

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