Pets May Improve Our Mood, Boost Brain Health
Sharing your home with a beloved cat or dog — or other animal — not only can enrich your life, it also could boost your brain health. Pet ownership may be linked maintaining better cognition over time, a new study indicates.
Older adults who were long-term pet owners appeared to maintain performance on common tests of subtraction, numeric counting, and word recall more than older non-pet owners in the new study.
Researchers used a composite cognitive score ranging from zero to 27. Long-term pet owners, on average, had a cognitive composite score 1.2 points higher at six years, compared to the non-pet owners, the study found.
Study authors noted that more work is needed to understand the reasons behind the association found.
Previous studies, however, have suggested that pets may improve their owners’ health in various ways, including by lowering stress levels, lightening moods, and encouraging exercise — all excellent factors for optimal brain health. Pets also can provide unconditional love, reduce social isolation, and ease loneliness.
Dog owners, for example, can attest to the many opportunities they have for social interaction at the local dog park. The act of taking one’s dog for a daily walk sets the pattern for a healthy lifestyle . Cat owners, meanwhile, may rejoice in their feline’s loyal companionship and ability to induce relaxation through the simple act of petting.
Animals of all kinds have long been used to help humans boost their mood and create a sense of calm. Companionship with pets can create strong bonds that may ease the effects of loneliness in some individuals, research has suggested.
Pet ownership isn’t for everyone, of course, as animals require much care and attention. But pharmacists who know of their clients’ history — especially if they were avid dog or cat lovers in the past — may recommend they consider adopting a new furry friend.