To examine the prospective relation between animal companionship and biomarkers of ageing in older people.DESIGN
Analyses of data from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing, an ongoing, open, prospective cohort study initiated in 2002-03.SETTING
Nationally representative study from England.PARTICIPANTS
8785 adults (55% women) with a mean age of 67 years (SD 9) at pet ownership assessment in 2010-11 (wave 5).MAIN OUTCOME MEASURE
Established biomarkers of ageing in the domains of physical, immunological, and psychological function, as assessed in 2012-13 (wave 6).RESULTS
One third of study members reported pet ownership: 1619 (18%) owned a dog, 1077 (12%) a cat, and 274 (3%) another animal. After adjustment for a range of covariates, there was no evidence of a clear association of any type of pet ownership with walking speed, lung function, chair rise time, grip strength, leg raises, balance, three markers of systemic inflammation, memory, or depressive symptoms.CONCLUSION
In this population of older adults, the companionship of creatures great and small seems to essentially confer no relation with standard ageing phenotypes.