Pet ownership may be a factor in improved health of older adults. For older pet owners, pets can help reduce stress, lower blood pressure, increase social interaction and physical activity.
Pets can contribute to healthy aging and even longer life! Studies suggest that pets can positively influence factors that contribute to longevity. According to a recent study, pet owners are 12% happier than people without pets. Pets reduce stress, anxiety and depression, and ease loneliness. Scientists have even found that dog owners are likely to live longer than those who don’t own a dog.
According to The Spruce Pets, the best dog breeds for older adults include those that are low-maintenance with lower exercise needs and can thrive in smaller spaces. The 12 best dogs The Spruce Pets recommends are:
1. Bichon Frise
2. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
3. French Bulldog
6. Pembroke Welsh Corgi
9. Shih Tzu
10. West Highland White Terrier
12. Miniature Schnauzer
It’s important to remember, however, that the best canine fit varies from senior to senior depending on their lifestyle and abilities.
There are, however, other factors to consider when having a pet. There is the cost of owning a pet. Pets are also an injury risk. Roughly 86,000 injuries a year are reported in the US due to pets, usually tripping over them.
In all, 55% of adults ages 50 to 80 have a pet. Pet ownership needn’t be limited to dogs. Cats, birds, reptiles, and even barnyard animals enhance the lives of older adults. Before welcoming a pet into the family, however, an older adult is encouraged to find the right pet that best meets his/her needs. Do your
homework and be honest about any disabilities or functional limitations. Consider the age, health, and temperament of the pet. Remember that pets are a significant long-term financial commitment. And, as difficult as it is to think about, plan for the unexpected for the pet. If the older adult is hospitalized, spends time in a rehabilitation facility, or even passes away, what would happen to their animal(s)?
Pets can be a constant source of comfort and companionship. Even though their spirit can feed our soul, it’s important not to overlook their needs. Embrace all that a pet can add to your life, but make sure you’re equipped to reciprocate.