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Loneliness affects one in four senior people,
but the good news is – there is one source of comfort and
companionship that can benefit seniors in countless ways


seniors with dog 1200


A survey conducted recently at the University of Michigan showed that senior citizens can reduce isolation and loneliness by interacting with their furry friends.  Owning a pet could be one of the best things you could do to improve your health.   More than 85% of those surveyed said that they would feel much lonelier if they did not have their pets, and 58% said that their health had improved since they had had their pet.

Anne Lowe, 74, credits her dog Pumpkin for keeping her going.  She says “We are growing old together, which is wonderful.  I understand that she too has aches and pains. My husband passed away several years ago and Pumpkin has assisted in bridging that gap.  I have something to come home for and that means a lot”.


Owning a pet has huge benefits for seniors

Having a pet helps to reduce stress, it lowers blood pressure plus it increases physical activity and social interaction.  Pets have an incredible effect on depression and the feeling of loneliness. 

A Psychologist in New York City  says that ““Having a pet helps the senior focus on something other than their physical problems and negative preoccupations about loss or aging.”


Adoption benefits the pet as well

The advantages of pet ownership are undeniable, but animals benefit hugely from adoption as well.  They go from pound to paradise.   Retired people have more time to devote to their adopted pet and this creates a forever bond. 


senior and dog therapy


Pros and cons to consider before taking on a pet


Are you set in your ways?

Adopting a pet will change your daily routine.  If you are not good with change, then you may not necessarily be a good candidate for adoption.  If you can cope with change, then you are in for a new and rewarding commitment. 


Are you physically challenged in any way?

Dogs need to be walked, and walked regularly.  They will encourage you to exercise, which is wonderful for your health, but you need to be able to walk, and not have limited mobility.  If this is you, then you might prefer to consider a cat or a bird.


Consider the age of the pet

A puppy or kitten might not be a good idea as they will need a lot of training and lots of care, and they are very active.  A senior pet could be the ticket because it is likely that they will be well trained already.  The only downside it that you may outlive an older adopted pet. 


Take into account your temperament

Check out the characteristics of the different breeds and if you are looking at prospective adoptees, spend time with them to get a feel for their personality and energy levels.  A pet with high energy may need a lot of commitment and effort and that may not necessarily suit you. 


Could finance be an issue?

There is no doubt that pets come with a long-term financial commitment.  Vets bills, food, medical care, grooming and toys come with a high price tag.  Don’t forget to consider your budget before taking on the commitment of a pet.

If finance is an issue, then there are solutions. 

TEARS offers post-adoption support for Golden Oldie dogs.  Take a look….

The Frosty Face Foster Program are also well placed to solve this issue. 


Consider your future, and have a back-up plan

Do you have a plan in place for your furry friend should an emergency strike?  It would be awful for the pet to have to go back to a shelter should you have to spend time in hospital, or if you have to move to a facility which does not allow pets.


Where to look for a new pet

Breeders are a great source, but adopting a pet from a shelter is likely to be less expensive and you may receive additional benefits such as reduced adoption fees for older pets.  You do need to spend time with your prospective furry friend in order for you to gauge the fit.


senior and dog therapy


Voluntary work with your pet

Perhaps the idea of making therapeutic visits to retirement homes, frail care centres, hospices etc is of interest to you.  Therapy animals (mostly dogs) bring a great comfort and support to those who are laid up in any way.  They provide a relief from the usual routine and is a visit that patients look forward to. 

Contact Top Dogs in this regard. 



If this article was of interest,
then consider reading the following:

Seniors benefit from the companionship and healing power of animals

Fostering a furry friend

Do dogs get doggie-dementia?


  • Annette says:

    It is all true that the elderly should have a pet. There is however a problem – retirement places with life rights do not allow for pets. Then it is difficult to find
    holiday accommodation that allows pets.

    • Marilynh says:

      Hi Annette

      We have heard that some retirement villages/homes are relaxing the previous exclusion of pets on the property, but you’re right, many do not allow for pets. In terms of holiday accommodation that allows pets, we are currently researching this, so watch this space..!


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