In order to examine pet ownership and pet attachment as factors supporting the health of the elderly, a national probability sample of Americans 65 years of age and older was drawn. Participants answered telephone survey questions regarding pet ownership, life stress, social support, depression, and recent illness. In multiple regression analyses, pet ownership failed to predict depression and illness behavior, while pet attachment significantly predicted depression but not illness experience. In a group with particularly great distress (the bereaved), pet ownership and strong attachment were significantly associated with less depression only when the number of available confidants was minimal.
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