In your golden years you may think that having a pet is too much trouble. A dog, for example can mean logistics that are difficult to maintain like protecting your furniture and planning your time surrounding walks and grooming appointments. They can also be expensive to maintain, with food, kennels, grooming and vet bills. That being said, there are a number of great reasons for seniors to consider getting a dog that connect to improving their lifestyle.
A few good reasons for older people to get a dog include:
- Getting exercise: While this is relatively obvious, seniors tend to get less exercise than they should. Having a dog is an impetus for walking and playing on a regular basis. Exercise and building muscle means promoting improved balance which can lead to avoiding the kinds of falls that are be very detrimental for senior health.
- Pain relief: In a study on therapy animals it was proven that Pets are great for alleviating chronic pain. Caring for a dog builds oxytocin as well as takes people’s minds off their own troubles for a bit.
- Companionship: Of course a dog is a person’s best friend, and for seniors, loneliness can lead to stress, inflammation, and poor sleep. Having a dog can alleviate symptoms of loneliness and corresponding anxiety. In addition, dog owners often meet up with each other at dog parks or on walks leading to human as well as canine interactions. It is crucial for their health that seniors remain social as being solitary is proven to be one of the worst things for heart health and stroke risk.
- A regular schedule: Keeping to a routine is something that is sometimes difficult for seniors on their own. Having a dog means maintaining certain parts of their schedule while also creating reasons for getting up at a particular time or taking breaks from activities at regular intervals. Adding this daily structure is important for mental health and can help stave off symptoms of dementia.
Again, while there are a number of excellent reasons for seniors to consider getting a dog, it can be a pretty laborious process to maintain any animal in your home. Invest in some research in what it takes to prepare yourself, your home and your dog for the initial stages of the relationship. Usually the beginning is the most taxing part and if you think you can handle that, you should be ready for dog ownership.
Some tips include:
- Getting a crate: Crate training is natural for a dog. They love having a private space and will do less damage to your home this way. Make sure the crate is the correct size so that it doesn’t give them too much room (which they might use as a bathroom) and isn’t too small for their frame.
- Keep medicines, soaps, and cleaning supplies out of reach: A high cabinet will be better for anything that a dog could accidentally nose their way into.
- Keep the toilet lid shut: If you leave it open, many dogs will drink toilet water which is not good for them or for you.
- Keep your trash empty: Dogs will root around in garbage if they can it’s best to keep trash outside.
- Do you need pet insurance: Consider how you will get your dog to the vet, and if you are on a fixed income you might want to think about pet insurance so that you will not have to pay out of pocket for any unanticipated expenses.
There are so many good reasons for seniors to bring a dog into their lives, but if it seems too arduous to own a pet, there are also therapeutic animal services that will bring animals to you in order to reap some of the benefits of dog ownership. That said, there is nothing like the joy that a dog can bring into your heart, emotionally and physically.