That special bond that exists between a dog and its owner should never be underestimated. However, for older people, the benefits go far beyond the usual simple enjoyment that their pet can bring. For seniors, dog ownership can be an actual lifesaver, particularly for those who are living alone.
Of course, it is always vitally important that certain considerations are taken into account. There is little point in offering a giant or a highly active breed to someone frail or with limited mobility or gifting an eight-week-old puppy to someone with no prior pet experience or with no outside space available.
However, if the right breed and age of the dog are matched well to the individual, the experience can be extremely enriching for both the dog and the new owner and here are the top reasons why:
For seniors who live alone life can be very lonely. Owning a dog can turn a barren and solitary life into a pleasure. Imagine going from staring at four walls to having a friend who will offer unlimited and endless love and affection, literally twenty-four hours a day.
Walking a dog provides an excellent form of exercise provided you choose a dog which matches your level of mobility and fitness. A smallish breed will always benefit from a quiet stroll around the local park. In fact, even the task of grooming and caring for a dog can provide a lot more exercise than some seniors get on an average day.
Without the daily requirement to go to work, days can literally blend into one another. Having to care for a pet can introduce a nice healthy routine into the day. All dogs need to be let out first thing in the morning and last thing at night. Dogs also need to be fed regularly, two to three times a day, and this is a firm reminder to the owner that they also need to nourish themselves regularly.
Dogs need regular exercise and so do people even though many often don’t bother as they get older. Having to take your dog out will provide the opportunity for meeting other dog owners and all manner of people on the way to and from the local park. It’s pretty rare to walk your dog and have absolutely no social interaction with another person. In fact, it’s far more likely that dog walking friendships are going to be struck up as you exercise your canine fur ball.
Mental and Emotional Health
Many pet owners tell their animals about all of their worries and dogs make excellent sounding boards. Even though a dog can’t solve your problems just the act of getting concerns off your chest can ease any stress. The antics of most dogs are also highly hilarious and few can resist their exuberance for life. If the only purpose your dog has is making you laugh and smile regularly then he/she is already providing huge health bonuses.
Studies have shown a number of physical health benefits which may be less well known:
- Stroking and petting an animal is very calming and can help to lower blood pressure, particularly in those at high risk of hypertension.
- Those who deal with chronic pain such as arthritis or migraines often also report a lessening of symptoms. The exercise will help to keep your body moving fluidly but also hugging a pet releases the natural hormone called Oxytocin which promotes cortisol which helps with pain relief.
- The hormone, Oxytocin, also promotes stress reduction, contentment and can help to lower your heart rate.
As you can see, owning a dog can have great benefits in all manner of ways. However, for those with restricted mobility who are unable to manage such a high maintenance pet, there is still a perfect solution because owning a cat can also provide similar health benefits minus the exercise!