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The Benefits of Pet Ownership for Seniors

March 24, 2023

If you’ve owned a pet, you know how much joy they can bring to your life. Just ask the 90.5 million households who own a pet in the United States. And if you’re one of the 27% of baby boomers who own a pet, I’m sure you can attest to the benefits of pet ownership.

Whether you are a senior who has never owned a pet or had pets in the past and trying to decide how a pet will fit into your current lifestyle, here are some incredible benefits of pet ownership that may help you decide.

Physical Health Benefits of Pet Ownership

People over age 65 visit their doctors less than those without pets. Pet owners, especially dog owners, are more likely to engage in physical activity. Daily dog walks and even a game of fetch can improve fitness, endurance, and mobility for older adults. Pet owners also enjoy decreased blood pressure, lower risks of heart disease, and lower triglyceride and cholesterol levels. 

Mental Health Benefits of Pet Ownership

There’s nothing better than the mood-boosting feeling you get from a happy puppy or a purring kitten. Playing with a pet can reduce stress, anxiety, and depression by elevating levels of serotonin and dopamine, which calm and relax. And that’s not just dogs and cats! Birds can encourage social interaction and keep your mind sharp if you are an older adult; watching fish in an aquarium can lower your pulse rate and reduce tension.

Pets Reduce Isolation and Loneliness

Older adults experience isolation and loneliness more than any other demographic. As we age, difficulty driving and mobility issues can make it hard for once-social seniors to connect with family and friends. Pets are excellent at giving affection and unconditional love.  Caring for a pet provides seniors with a daily routine and a sense of purpose.

Pets Provide Safety and Security

Older adults who live alone are at more risk for break-ins, burglaries, and injuries from falls. Dogs are great at discouraging intruders, alerting homeowners of fires, dangers, and protecting owners from harm.

Pets Help With Healing and Rehabilitation

If you’re recovering from a severe injury or illness, a therapy animal may be just what you need for a faster recovery.

A trained therapy animal can help patients heal faster and easier by:

  • Reducing stress
  • Providing comfort
  • Preventing falls
  • Accompanying patients to doctor appointments
  • Providing support during therapy

Owning a pet can improve your life in so many ways. If you’re interested in pet ownership, contact your local shelter, human society, or animal rescue. Fostering a pet is also a great way to see how a pet will fit into your life without committing.