They’re happy to see you. They enjoy resting nearby and they offer communication through tail wags and rubbing against you. They’re our pets and they bring great joy and happiness to millions of households.
Although all pet owners experience the benefits of having a pet, there are specific ways that pets enrich the lives of the older population. Studies show that older people with pets are in better health and spirits than those without.
3 Ways Pets Benefit Older People
- Companionship – It’s no surprise pets provide reliable companionship. Having a friend around to snuggle provides comfort and solace for older people, whether they live alone or with a partner. When you hold and pet an animal, your body releases endorphins, or “feel good” chemicals. Regularly stimulating the release of endorphins can help reduce arthritis pain, depression and other ailments.
- Dogs encourage regular exercise – Taking a dog for a walk is a gentle form of exercise. If mobility is limited, dog owners can split the exercise into several short walks throughout the day. People who maintain consistency with their exercise benefit the most—both physically and mentally. Physically, walking helps manage conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure. Mentally, exercise eases anxiety, sharpens memory and inspires creativity.
- Protection—Many dogs will bark to alert their owners of potential intruders. Dogs can protect you while on a walk, and possibly even get help in the event of a critical situation such as a heart attack.