According to a study in The Gerontologist, seniors who owned and walked dogs saw a lot of health benefits compared to seniors who did not own dogs or didn’t take them on frequent walks. These dog owning seniors saw a lower body mass index, had fewer doctor visits, and had increased social benefits. Owning a dog is a great way to exercise and meet other people while out and about.
So doctors should just start prescribing dogs to seniors with health problems, right? Well, it’s not that simple. The study does show a correlation between owning a dog and better health, but it doesn’t prove that owning a dog causes those benefits. It’s possible that fit, active seniors are just already more likely to own and walk a dog because they are capable of meeting the physical demands.
That said, other studies confirm that having a dog does have benefits, such as reduced levels of stress and lower blood pressure. But even if owning a dog is beneficial for seniors, it’s important to consider if seniors are physically capable of dog ownership before they go out and adopt one solely for health purposes. Dogs have needs, and lifting heavy bags of food, bending over to clean up after messes, and engaging in active play and walks aren’t for everyone. Don’t go out and buy a puppy for Grandma or Grandpa without taking all aspects of pet ownership into consideration.
Do you think owning a dog is a health benefit? Do you believe seniors are better off when they own a dog? Let us know in the comments below!