This article has been republished for exclusive use by The Grey Muzzle Organization with the permission of original author, Devin Morrissey.
We know that the benefits of pet ownership for seniors are numerous. We know that owning older dogs is utterly rewarding. Putting the two together is perfect match. For seniors, owning senior dogs can make their lives fuller, more emotionally well balanced and generally happier. Here are all the reasons why older folk and older dogs belong together:
Dog ownership can increase mood levels and have healthy heart benefits for owners — if the match-up is a good, stress-free one. Puppies can be energetic and require lots of care, both physically and emotionally. Because older dogs have a lower energy level, they can often offer the right amount of energy level and physical activity requirements to not only match senior citizens but benefit them. Walks don’t need to be as long or as vigorous; both will get beneficial amounts of exercise (and walks keep people connected with their community) at a good pace. Most older dogs are already trained, so the energy required to put into an older dog to make a happy household is lesser.
There’s a lot of evidence that spending time with an animal, even if it’s just a few minutes a day, improves people’s health. This is absolutely true of seniors. Pet therapy naturally reduces pain, depression, and anxiety. For seniors struggling with memory issues or dementia, animals can provide focus and mental activity, which can lead to a better mood and emotional stability. Animal interactions have even been known to help senior citizens eat better and maintain a healthier weight.
Companionship carries untold amounts of benefits for senior citizens. Many companion-type dogs will be happy to spend their days hanging out with their owners. The emotional connection is rewarding for both dog and owner, especially owners who live in retirement communities or care facilities. Love and companionship are fundamental needs; pets provide that unconditionally. Dogs can provide comfort, purpose, and relieve stress and anxiety. This is especially true of older dogs who are often more appreciative of the affection they receive.
Get Help Finding Your Dog
There are plenty of organizations out there, like Grey Muzzle, eager to match senior citizens to older dogs, and some will even do so at a reduced price. Older dogs tend to get lost in a crowd full of puppies, so placing these dogs tends to be harder but more rewarding. Many places take into account elements like breed, temperament, activity levels and a dog’s ability to bond with the owner when placing a dog in a new home. It never hurts to use resources like this to find the best fit for your living situation so that you and your pet can have the happily ever after you both deserve.
Devin roams the Pacific Northwest, bringing his dog, Scrummy, whenever possible. He is a strong believer that nothing can compare to a dog's unconditional love.
You can follow him and Scrummy on Twitter.