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Adopt a Pet for Better Health

There is a reason dogs are often called “man’s best friend.”

Owning a dog can make you happier and healthier. Over the years numerous studies have discovered significant physical and mental health benefits for pet owners. The extra physical activity dog owners typically get in the form of walks and play is one of the more obvious ways your health gets a boost. Research has shown that heart attack patients who were also dog owners lived longer than patients who didn’t have a furry friend at home. Pet owners often experience these health perks too:

  • lower cholesterol
  • lower blood pressure
  • decreased triglyceride levels
  • fewer feelings of loneliness

Dogs have been used in various medical settings such as nursing homes, medical facilities, and mental institutions as a form of therapy for patients. Petting an animal can help reduce stress levels and increase levels of the hormone oxytocin, which aids in creating feelings of trust and happiness. Therapists have used animals as a way to break through communication barriers with children. There are even pet adoption programs targeted specifically at seniors, such as the Lynwood, WA based PAWS program Seniors for Seniors, which matches an older shelter pet in need of a loving home with someone age 60 and older.

While owning a pet can provide tremendous benefits to seniors, they do require love and care and might not be suitable for everyone. Consider the following before adopting an animal:

  • Will the cost of visits to the vet or pet food be a strain on the person’s budget?
  • Will the person caring for the animal be able to take them for walks? (if not a cat might be the solution)
  • Will the person caring for the animal remember to feed and care for the animal?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, consider the value volunteering at a shelter might bring. Given the wonderful companionship and health benefits animals can provide to aging adults, it might be time to visit your local shelter today!