We like to think that we look after our pets, but in a lot of ways, they take care of us. In this blog, we’re exploring some of the benefits having a four-pawed friend offers to older people.
Having a dog gives you a reason to get up, get moving, and stick to a basic routine. Feeding them, letting them out, taking them for walks, these may all seem like small tasks, but when they define the times of your day, give you something to focus on and help you stay organised, you suddenly realise just how much purpose a four-pawed friend brings to your life.
Dogs are loyal, they know when you’re happy and comfort you when you’re sad. They think that you’re amazing no matter what, are always excited to see you, and will listen to every word you say. If you’re feeling down, they can brighten up your day with a wag of a tail, and petting a four-legged friend has also been proven to reduce anxiety and promote a sense of calm. When things are a little quiet, or you're feeling lonely, their presence and the sounds they make (be it snoring or a cheeky growl) can remind you that you’re not alone in the world.
Having a dog undoubtedly improves your quality of life but it also has a revitalising effect on your health. People who have dogs are proven to have lower blood pressure and lower cholesterol than those without pets. Having a dog even reduces the risk of a heart attack. There are of course many mental health benefits too. Some are linked to the above headings, and others are brought about by the social interactions that having a dog promotes. They are a fantastic ice-breaker for conversation, and a great reason to get out and about and meet with people who share your love for wet-nosed creatures.
It's important to note that having a pet is not for everyone. You need to ensure that it's the right move before making the commitment. This helpful article gives a list of 10 questions to consider before taking on the responsibility. If a full-time pet is not right for you, don't be disheartened, there are lots of dogs and cats sitting in shelters that would absolutely cherish a little bit of affection from a loving person who is willing to volunteer their time.