Pets are good for the brain

Walking your dog, stroking your cat are all activities that make pet owners happy. According to a study presented at a neurology congress in the United States, our four-legged friends also help prevent cognitive decline in seniors.

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[EN VIDÉO] Once upon a time there was a dog who knew how to distinguish languages
The story of Kun-Kun, the border collie who left Mexico to move to Hungary, allowed ethologists at Eötvös Lorànd University in Budapest to discover that dogs are able to distinguish their “mother” language from a foreign language. A very first proof of this capacity for a non-human brain. © Family Dog Project Research Group

Cats and dogs make their owners happy every day. If our four-legged friends improve our well-being and reduce our stress, they would also have beneficial effects for seniors. A preliminary study presented during the 74and congress of the american academy of neurology shows that the owners of dog and cats are less prone to cognitive decline.

Dogs and cats would be beneficial for the brains of seniors

Doctors at the University Hospital of Michigan in the United States analyzed data from 1,369 retirees affiliates to the Medicare program. In all, 53% of them stated that they had a pet, dog or cat, of which 32% for more than 5 years. These retirees, whose average age is 65, have passed several cognitive tests over several years. Based on the results of said tests, the doctors assigned each a “cognitive score” ranging from 0 to 27.

As expected, participants’ cognitive score declines over time. But people who have owned pets for more than 5 years have a higher cognitive score — by 1.2 points — than people who haven’t.

As stress can negatively affect cognitive functions, the anti-stress effect of owning a pet could provide a plausible reason for our observations. A pet also increases activity physical, which may benefit cognitive health. That being said, further research is needed to confirm our findings and identify the mechanisms underlying this association. “, concludes Tiffany Bradley, doctor at the University Hospital of Michigan and first author of the study, not published in a scientific journal to date.

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