, Volume 12, Issue 2, pp 103-110

Relations between companion animals and self-reported health in older women: cause, effect or artifact?

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A large longitudinal dataset on women’s health in Australia provided the basis of analysis of potential positive health effects of living with a companion animal. Age, living arrangements, and housing all strongly related to both living with companion animals and health. Methodological problems in using data from observational studies to disentangle a potential association in the presence of substantial effects of demographic characteristics are highlighted. Our findings may help to explain some inconsistencies and contradictions in the literature about the health benefits of companion animals, as well as offer suggestions for ways to move forward in future investigations of human-pet relationships.