Foggy? A little patching when it comes to memory recall? New research has discovered that a long-term pet companion may be just what the doctor ordered with your fuzzy friend potentially delaying memory loss and other types of cognitive decline.

A study was recently conducted that recorded the cognitive data of more than 1,300 adults with an average age of 65. Of this group, 53 percent owned pets, and more than 30 percent of the participants were long-term pet owners, i.e. had owned a pet (or pets) for five years or more. Using a series of tests, each participant was assigned a cognitive score. Over six years, the cognitive scores of pet owners declined at a lower rate than those deprived of time with Fido or Felix. Overall, the cognitive scores of those in immediate proximity to pets was 1.2 points higher on average than their non-pet owning peers.

These findings join a host of others espousing the benefits of having a pet. For instance, prior research discovered that people who own pets tend to have healthier hearts, take fewer sick days, get more exercise, and are less likely to experience depression. Convinced? Take a trip down to your local animal shelter and give a dog or cat a home.

If you’re a dog person…

If you’re on the fence on whether to adopt a cat or dog, researchers at Michigan State University discovered that dog owners are 34 percent more likely to squeeze in 150 minutes of walking every week than those living without canine. The study also found that having a pup in tow could also make you more active during designated leisure hours.

…or maybe you prefer cats.

Dog days aren’t the only healthy choice. If you’re leaning more towards something with claws, adopting a cat could reduce your risk of cardiovascular diseases. One study found that owning a cat could help reduce stress levels and lower blood pressure.

So, check out your local shelters, peruse the classifieds, even reach out to your neighbor vet for questions and get the latest information on any open adoptions in your area. You’ll be glad you did!