- February
Posted By : PawBoost
4 Surprising Benefits Of Pets For Seniors

This article is contributed by guest writer, Jackie B. (Writer of AnimalSo).

4 Surprising Benefits Of Pets For Seniors

Animals make wonderful companions and provide countless value to our lives. From four-legged friends to lizards and birds, our pets become part of our family. But did you know that having a pet as we age can provide several health benefits, too?

Seniors often deal with feelings of loneliness and isolation. The loving companionship a pet provides can offset these emotions and add comfort and happiness to their lives.

Companionship isn’t the only benefit of pet ownership for seniors. Here are some of the many reasons why the elderly should have a furry companion to share their twilight years with.

Photo Credit: Karin Hiselius via Unsplash

1. Pets promote physical activity and heart health

It’s important for people to be engaged in some sort of physical activity as they get older. Seniors aged 65 or older should get around 30 minutes of exercise daily. This is made much easier when you have a pet to walk or play with.

Many people are shown to increase their activity levels to meet that of their pets. This results in greater cardiovascular health and overall well-being in seniors. In fact, research has found that those seniors who had a dog had better cardiovascular health due to the fact they were more active from taking their pets for walks.

That being said, some dog breeds and other high-energy dogs, such as Border Collies, will need a brisk 45-minute walk every day and plenty of training. So, if this sounds like too much hard work, opt for a breed that is less energetic or has short little legs, like a Corgi, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, a Maltese or a French Bulldog.

Photo Credit: Pontus Wellgraf via Unsplash

2. Pets provide emotional support

As we get older, loneliness and dealing with daily stress can lead to feelings of anxiety and depression. There are many times older people may even feel underappreciated or forgotten. Pets can serve as a support system, providing us with unconditional love and acceptance. There are even therapy pets who visit elderly people in nursing homes and hospitals for the sole purpose of companionship.

And while elderly people benefit greatly from pets, pets can benefit greatly from people too! In fact, there are many animals in need of adoption who also experience the same feelings of isolation as some elderly people. Having each other as support through life’s challenges is invaluable and offers endless joy and a feeling of purpose to both pet and owner.

3. Pets ease pain

Many seniors experience pain or poor physical health. This can make daily life very difficult. Pets can help ease pain by helping seniors take their minds off their physical symptoms. After all, it has been found that simply looking into your pet’s eyes for just five minutes boosts feel-good hormones in the brain, making us feel better.

Photo Credit: Steffen Kastner via Unsplash

4. Pets help us to form a routine

The routine of caring for a pet and having to provide it with meals, exercise, and attention can help seniors find structure and purpose in their daily life. Structuring your days becomes even more important after retirement, since having no real routine can lead to feelings of helplessness.

Before going out and adopting a pet, seniors should choose their ideal canine companion according to their daily routine. For those who do stay at home, they may benefit from a more active dog to help inject some activity and company to their day. For those who are regularly out and about, a small companion that can be taken with them on their outings can be very adaptable and affectionate. 

Final thoughts

The key to health and happiness as a senior is having a pet! There is no doubt that animals have a profound therapeutic effect on people. They love unconditionally and greatly enhance the overall wellbeing of their owners.

For seniors, having a pet can provide mental stimulation, physical activity, and emotional support, all of which greatly improve their quality of life and enriches their day to day living. When there’s no one to talk to or go and visit, a pet can provide a loving ear and a loyal, lifetime friend.

Wondering what to name your new pal? Check out our top 25 most pawpular pet names!


  • I would love to have a dog but at my age ’88’ i’m not up to the walking it would require. I wouldn’t mind dog sitting once in a while.

    • Currently:
      Willie, a rrscue Chaweiner
      Mikey, a feral cat I tamed 12 years ago
      Sadie, a tortie I rescued from Humane Society. I asked for the cat that had been there the longest. She was in the shelter over a year.
      In the past:
      Perro, lab husky mix who lived to be 17
      Mallory, lab mic
      Shiloh, lzb mix
      Chien, lab mix someone tied up and abandoned at the Marina
      Alice, rescue cat and best cat ever
      Omar, gray cat abandoned in house I rented
      Foxy Lady, Omar’s sister
      Beethoven, because he rolled over.
      Teak, abandoned with her litter in front of my garage. .
      Rusty., who just moved himself in.
      Cromwell, because he wanted to be King. Siamese
      And many more, but my fading memory can’t pull their names up now.

  • Pets are also sensitive to your energy. I’ve acquired Type 1 after having had Lyme disease. I deal with hypoglycemic episodes which I myself can sense and remedy during the day, but at night, while I’m sleeping, my dog senses that I’m having an episode, and will wake me up so that I can remedy the situation. It’s uncanny and I am very grateful. I walk dogs and dog sit as well. If I sleep with a dog, my blood sugar numbers are under 100 every morning. There are many benefits…….the ones above and others which have yet to be given a stamp of approval. My endocrinologist is very supportive of having a pet.

  • I agree , So why do all the Seniors subsidized Housing complexes have a ZERO pet allowance clause !!!

  • Another benefit,,, if you have sleep apnea or something similar, they’ll wake you up!,,

  • Also… if you rescue an older dog, they’re so grateful, they’ll love and protect you to the end and beyond…

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