1. They’re good for your heart, literally! Owning a senior dog has been proven to decrease stress, blood pressure, cholesterol levels and triglyceride levels, which all have noticeable effects on the cardiovascular system. Further, heart attack patients who have pets survive longer than those without, according to several studies. Senior dogs have all the basics down and aren’t full of wild energy to burn. Because you’re not constantly chasing around or cleaning up after your older pet, you have a lot more time to spend finding fun things to do or just relaxing together.
2. They prevent allergies and colds. A strong immune system is the first line of defense in older humans to prevent colds. So, you may want to invite Fido to nuzzle up to you without always reaching for the hand sanitizer. Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco believe that exposure to the germs that dogs carry can give people’s immune system daily workouts. Allergies and colds in senior citizens can be reduced significantly by having dogs in their family.
3. They’re a natural anti-depressant. Dogs help reduce feelings of anxiety and depression, as their optimistic demeanor and devotion to you are natural mood enhancers. Research has revealed that seniors citizens were less likely to suffer from depression with a dog as part of their family.
4. Throw away the treadmill and get a dog. Being a “dog person” can also make you more of an exerciser. Not only are dog owning senior citizens more likely to take regular walks, but research shows that people with dogs are more active overall – beyond just dog walking – compared with people without dogs. Further, another study found dogs to be a better influence on their human exercise partners, i.e., they never make excuses not to exercise!
5. How about a boost to your social life? Dogs don’t just fetch balls and Frisbees; they can also fetch good company for you. Simply being in the presence of your pooch naturally puts you at ease, and provides several ways for you to meet new people in the neighborhood, such as at the dog park, the vet and the coffee shop. And, of course, dogs are always a great topic of conversation. Get the photo albums out!
6. They can potentially detect and predict health issues. Researchers at the University of Florida found that some dogs can detect seizures and migraines before they occur due to their remarkable sense of smell. Some studies show that dogs can perform what often seem like miracles, such as detecting cancer and warning about low blood sugar.
The Department of Defense also pairs service dogs with retired soldiers. These dogs have been trained to gently pull, push or nuzzle the veterans when they sense signs of an oncoming panic attack or PTSD episode.
7. They’re great “medicine” for the elderly. Maintaining a social network isn’t always easy for the elderly, but for seniors who are able, dog ownership is a great way to gain companionship and meet new people. Pets also encourage laughter, playfulness and physical activity, which can help boost the immune system and energy. For caregivers taking care of an elderly patient, cats can provide less of a burden when there is a pet as cats generally require less care than a dog.
8. They provide unconditional love and support. Many older people find the calm presence of a senior pet very comforting. They appreciate having a companion who is also ‘getting up there’ in age, doesn’t mind hearing the same stories again and again, and is content to move through life at a slower speed.
9. They add structure and meaning to your day. Many pets require a consistent schedule, which in turn encourages you to become more organized and focused on everyday tasks–no matter your mood. For some people, the daily routine of having a companion to care for offers an important sense of purpose and fulfillment.
If you’ve been thinking about adopting a senior dog, please visit our Seniors of Seniors page to find more information about how Senior Paws Dog Rescue can help you.