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Article

Association between Experience of Pet Ownership and Psychological Health among Socially Isolated and Non-Isolated Older Adults

1
Human Care Research Team, Tokyo Metropolitan Institute of Gerontology, Tokyo 173-0015, Japan
2
Center for Health and Environmental Risk Research, National Institute for Environmental Studies, Tsukuba 305-0053, Japan
3
Integrated Research Initiative for Living Well with Dementia, Tokyo Metropolitan Institute of Gerontology, Tokyo 173-0015, Japan
4
Research Team for Social Participation and Community Health, Tokyo Metropolitan Institute of Gerontology, Tokyo 173-0015, Japan
5
Kagawa Nutrition University, Saitama 350-0288, Japan
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Aubrey H. Fine
Animals 2021, 11(3), 595; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11030595
Received: 1 February 2021 / Revised: 17 February 2021 / Accepted: 18 February 2021 / Published: 24 February 2021
The COVID-19 pandemic may have accelerated social isolation, particularly of older adults who are at increased risk of severe illness, while practicing physical distancing and self-quarantine. This study conducted in a metropolitan area of Japan hopes to provide stronger cross-cultural evidence of the positive impact of pet ownership on the psychological health of socially isolated owners with its large sample of older adults comparing two types of pet ownership (i.e., dog or cat). In this study, experience of dog or cat ownership and the presence or absence of social isolation were categorized into four groups to compare psychological health of each group. After adjusting for demographic and potential confounders, we found that socially isolated older adults who never owned a dog were more likely to report lower psychological health in comparison to socially isolated current or past dog owners. Our findings have practical implications that pets, particularly dogs, can play a role in increasing opportunities for engaging in physical and social activities and providing emotional support and thereby reducing a sense of social isolation and loneliness and improving psychological health among older adults.
The psychological health effects of pet ownership have been widely studied, but only a few studies investigated its impact among socially isolated older adults. The present study aims to investigate the psychological health of older adults with or without the experience of pet (i.e., dog or cat) ownership who are socially isolated or not socially isolated. This study used cross-sectional data from 9856 community-dwelling older adults in a metropolitan area of Japan. Social and non-social isolation and type of pet ownership (i.e., dog or cat) were stratified to examine the psychological health. Logistic regression models indicated that, after adjusting for demographic and potential confounders, socially isolated older adults who never owned a dog were 1.22 times more likely to report lower psychological health in comparison to socially isolated current or past dog owners. No such difference was observed among cat owners. The results suggest that the experience of dog ownership may be effective to improve the psychological health among socially isolated older adult. View Full-Text
Keywords: dog ownership; cat ownership; social isolation; psychological health; older adult dog ownership; cat ownership; social isolation; psychological health; older adult
MDPI and ACS Style

Ikeuchi, T.; Taniguchi, Y.; Abe, T.; Seino, S.; Shimada, C.; Kitamura, A.; Shinkai, S. Association between Experience of Pet Ownership and Psychological Health among Socially Isolated and Non-Isolated Older Adults. Animals 2021, 11, 595. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11030595

AMA Style

Ikeuchi T, Taniguchi Y, Abe T, Seino S, Shimada C, Kitamura A, Shinkai S. Association between Experience of Pet Ownership and Psychological Health among Socially Isolated and Non-Isolated Older Adults. Animals. 2021; 11(3):595. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11030595

Chicago/Turabian Style

Ikeuchi, Tomoko; Taniguchi, Yu; Abe, Takumi; Seino, Satoshi; Shimada, Chiho; Kitamura, Akihiko; Shinkai, Shoji. 2021. "Association between Experience of Pet Ownership and Psychological Health among Socially Isolated and Non-Isolated Older Adults" Animals 11, no. 3: 595. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11030595

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Note that from the first issue of 2016, MDPI journals use article numbers instead of page numbers. See further details here.

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