Older adults in most developed countries can now expect to live nearly 80 years without significant disability. To maximize the quality of the years after retirement, societies, governments, and organizations are seeking strategies to help older adults maintain their mental and physical health, and retain their independence. Increasingly, the impact of pet ownership and other forms of human–animal interaction in healthy aging are discussed and investigated. In the Western world, more than 50% of households own one or more pets. The popularity of pets means they are well positioned to provide opportunities for companionship and nurturance. Since social networks tend to decrease as people age, pets may fill some gaps. While it is common to read about the benefits of pets and human–animal interactions, pet ownership in older age is also related to challenges and animal welfare concerns. This paper aims to briefly review the benefits and then explore risks and challenges related to pet ownership in older adulthood. In addition, we present strategies for maintaining beneficial pet ownership and human–animal interaction for older adults.
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