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What are the Health Benefits of Seniors Owning a Pet

pet dog sitting in senior woman's lap at pet-friendly senior living San Diego

Pets represent a lot of different things: companionship, love and a sense of purpose. So it’s no wonder over half of older adults 50-80 have at least one pet. But did you know there are a lot of health benefits to being a pet owner? That’s right, pet ownership can help you be happier and healthier. Choosing a pet-friendly senior living community San Diego like Casa de las Campanas can allow your bond with your pet to continue to flourish.

This blog post will look at the benefits of pets, suggest some things to consider before getting a pet, and suggest some breeds of dogs and cats that may work best for you.

Benefits of Older Adult Pet Ownership

  • Feeling loved: Having a pet around can help lift your spirits and lighten your mood.
  • Socialization: Other people love pets too — especially other pet owners — making it easy to meet people.
  • Companionship: Pets make great friends and are nice to have around so you don’t feel so alone. 
  • Therapy: Pets are great listeners and are often used to helping people open up about problems, deal with depression, or simply have someone to talk to. 
  • Purpose: Pets need to be fed, watered, exercised and groomed. These daily living activities can give you a sense of purpose.
  • Reduce Stress: People who have pets release a hormone known as oxytocin, which is a hormone that helps lower stress levels.
  • Protection: Certain kinds of dogs make better guards and protectors than others, so they can help ward off potential intruders. 
  • Get moving: Having a pet means more physical activity — going on walks, having a playdate at a dog park — which can help keep your weight under control and keep your joints looser.

Things to Consider Before Getting a Dog

While some of these apply to all types of pets, there are some specific factors to consider before getting a dog.

  • Cost: The cost of caring for a pet is a fairly significant long-term commitment, so be sure to consider your finances before choosing a pet. 
  • Size: Carefully consider the dog’s size in case they like to jump or chase things. You don’t want your dog to knock you down or pull you over when they’re on a leash.
  • Activity level: Some small breeds of dogs require a lot of exercise and stimulation. Make sure you find a breed that fits your lifestyle.
  • Care required: How often will your pet need to be bathed, groomed or taken to the vet?  Look for a breed that doesn’t need much maintenance and isn’t prone to health problems. 
  • Age: Yes, puppies are cute and loveable, but consider an adult or even a senior dog. They usually don’t have the energy levels or training needs of a puppy. 

Best Dog Breeds for Seniors 

  • Bolognese: Bolos are typically mellow, people-loving companions. They require only moderate exercise and their faithful personality will charm anyone.
  • Pembroke Welsh Corgi: More active than a Bolognese, Corgis are friendly and playful dogs who just want to love you, making them one of the best companion dogs. 
  • Cavalier King Charles Spaniel: These sweet-tempered little dogs are consistently listed as one of the best dog breeds for seniors, because they only need moderate exercise and would be happy with easy walks followed by downtime.
  • Scottish Terrier: Scotties bring a ton of personality. They also have high energy levels, but a good walk and a session of fetch should meet their requirements. 
  • Border Terrier: Like Scotties, Border Terriers love to go for walks and play a fun game of fetch. Their wiry coat repels dirt and requires more brushing than bathing, making them one of the best dog breeds for seniors who don’t want to do a lot of maintenance. These little dogs are spunky and loving, and their upbeat attitude makes them great companions.

Cats Can be Purr-fect Companions Too

If you have mobility issues or the thought of having to take a dog out for daily walks (rain or shine) doesn’t sound like fun to you, a house cat may be a better choice.

  • Domestic Shorthair: These are the most popular type of house cat and generally live 12 to 14 years.
  • Birman cat: They like to play but aren’t overly active, which can be a perfect combination.
  • Ragdoll cat: This breed is very laid back and affectionate.
  • Russian Blue: These cats tend to like to be close to their owners and usually stay out of trouble.
  • Persian cat: Known for affection, this breed bonds with its owners and is often very loyal.
  • Burmilla cat: These cats are active but are also quite affectionate.

Discover a Paw-some Place to Live

Casa de las Campanas is the only not-for-profit Type A Life Plan Community in San Diego County. Our full-service retirement community offers independent living San Diego along with higher levels of care for current residents living at Casa, including assisted living, memory care, skilled nursing and rehabilitation.

As we celebrate our 33rd year of serving seniors, we’re proud to announce we were recently awarded “Best Retirement/Independent Living Community” in three polls this year: San Diego’s Best — Union-Tribune Readers Poll, San Diego Reader — Best of Poll, and Pomerado News’ Best of North Inland Reader’s Poll, which we’ve won for eight years running.

To learn more about our pet-friendly, senior living community San Diego, featuring a beautiful campus next to the 170-acre Rancho Bernardo Nature Preserve and Ed Brown Senior Center with plenty of room for you and your furry friend, contact us here.