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Owning a Dog Could Lower the Risk of Dementia, New Study Shows

A Tokyo institute specializing in aging research has found that elderly people who own a dog have a significantly lower risk of dementia.

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Iori the Shiba Inu at the nursing home Kagaya no Mori in Suminoe Ward, Osaka, September 12, 2018. (©Sankei by Kan Emori)

New research indicates that elderly people who own dogs have a significantly reduced risk of developing dementia compared to non-dog owners. The study was conducted by researchers at the Tokyo Metropolitan Institute for Geriatrics and Gerontology (TMIG). Their findings were first published on November 22 in an international scientific journal. According to TMIG, this marks the first instance where a clear connection between dog ownership and the onset of dementia has been established.

40% Lower Risk

The TMIG, an institute under the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, conducted a comprehensive study from 2016 to 2020. It covered 11,194 men and women aged 65 or older in Tokyo. The data revealed that 5% of participants developed dementia. Dog owners experienced a remarkable 40% lower risk of dementia compared to non-dog owners.

Therapy dogs at a nursing facility in Tsuyama, Okayama Prefecture, April 1, 2017. (©Sankei)

Furthermore, the researchers observed that dog owners who adhered to regular exercise routines and maintained an active social life exhibited an even lower risk of developing dementia.

What About Cats?

Interestingly, the same couldn't be said about cats. There was no substantial difference in the incidence of dementia between cat owners and non-cat owners. 

The dog ownership rate among the participants was 8.6%, while the cat ownership rate was 6.3%

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(Read the article in Japanese.)

Author: The Sankei Shimbun

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