A new study has found owning a dog can help lower a person's risk of developing dementia.
Japanese researchers found having a dog helped people to take regular exercise and prevent social isolation, which are two key factors in lowering the risk of developing dementia.
The study by the Tokyo Metropolitan Institute for Geriatrics and Gerontology monitored 11,194 people aged over-65 for a four year period.
It found that dog ownership has a "suppressive effect" on incident disabling dementia.
Cat ownership was not effective for preventing dementia, it said.
"Specifically, dog owners with an exercise habit and no social isolation had a significantly lower risk of disabling dementia," the researchers found.
"Dog care might contribute to the maintenance of physical activity, including having an exercise habit, and social participation even in the face of restrictions to interactions such as those experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic."
The odds ratio, which indicates the risk of developing the disease, was calculated as 0.60 for dog owners and 0.98 for cat owners.
This was compared to 1 .0 for those who did not own dogs or cats.
During the follow-up period, 5% of participants had an incident of disabling dementia.