News, Culture & Society

Researchers find dog-owners are HALF as likely to be disabled in their 70s and 80s

Want to avoid disability in old age? Get a dog! Researchers find dog-owners are HALF as likely to be disabled in their 70s and 80s

  • Dog ownership helped slash the risk of disability in over 65s a new study finds
  • Going for walks with a canine companion reduced chance of disability by 50%
  • Study based on data from 11,000 Japanese seniors on pet ownership and health

They may tear up your newspaper, soil the carpet and devour every dropped food item they find.

But dogs still have a reason to claim the title of man’s best friend.

For research suggests that owning a dog could stop you becoming disabled in old age. 

Japanese scientists analysed the relationship between pet ownership and health in 11,000 adults in their sixties, seventies and eighties. 

Dog owners were half as likely to be disabled, defined as having limited movement or poor cognitive function, compared to people without a canine companion. 

Researchers at Tsukuba’s National Institute for Environmental Studies believe even past ownership may slash the risk of frailty.

But no similar health benefits were spotted in cat owners, according to the study in medical journal PLoS One. 

The benefits of dog ownership such as increased physical activity from walks, care and play appears to help protect older adults from disability as they age

Older women who regularly wash up, clean their house and cook meals have healthier hearts

 Women who regularly wash dishes, clean the house and cook meals have healthier hearts than those who sit back and take it easy, a study suggests. 

Scientists at the University of California followed 5,500 women who were asked to wear movement-tracking gadgets for a week. 

Results showed women who did at least four hours of ‘daily life movement’ cut their risk of a death from a heart attack or stroke by almost two thirds. 

Daily life movement was defined as just simple routine activities, which include cooking, household chores, gardening and even showering.

An array of studies have already shown that regular dedicated exercise, such as brisk walking, is vital in maintaining heart health.  

The protective effect could simply be down to the effort needed to look after dogs, claimed lead author senior researcher at the Center for Health and Environmental Risk Research Yu Taniguchi.  

‘The daily care, companionship and exercise of a pet dog may have an important role to play in successful aging,’ he said.

‘Dog walking is a moderate-intensity physical activity that appears to have a protective effect in reducing the risk of disability onset through decreased frailty risk.’   

Researchers examined data collected from 11,233 Japanese seniors who responded to mail questionnaire sent in 2016 about their pet ownership.

This information was then compared against the participants’ national heath data over three-and-a-half years.

At the end of the study period, roughly 17.1 per cent of the volunteers had developed a disability.

But people who owned a dog were about 46 per cent less likely to be in this group than those who had never owned a pooch.  

And people who had owned a dog in the past were roughly about 16 per cent less likely to develop a disability.  

The protective effects remained even when other factors such as household income, smoking status and health history were accounted for.  

But looking at the data for cats, no significant difference in the rates of disability in the study participants was observed.  

While the study did find dog ownership did offer a protective benefit from disability, healthier adults are more likely to own dogs.

Frail people, or those with mobility limiting conditions, can be put off by feeing unable to walk the the animal or give it enough attention. 

Mr Taniguchi said future research should explore the exact links between dog ownership and reduced chance of disability and if the findings are replicated outside of Japan.


Find local lawyers and law firms at