In the poll, 55 percent of adults ages 50 to 80 said they have a pet—and more than half of those have more than one. More than three-quarters of pet owners said their animals reduce stress, and nearly as many said pets give them a sense of purpose. But 18 percent also said having a pet or pets puts a strain on their budget.

Two-thirds of all pet owners, and 78 percent of dog owners, said their pet helps them stay physically active, according to the new findings from the National Poll on Healthy Aging, which the University of Michigan Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation conducted.

For those who reported fair or poor health, pet ownership appeared to offer even more benefits. More than 70 percent of these older adults said their pet helps them cope with physical or emotional symptoms, and 46 percent said their pets help take their mind off of pain.

“We have long known…

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