- Lowered Blood Pressure. Studies have shown that senior citizens who own a dog or a cat have lower blood pressure, caused by relaxation and reduced stress.
- Cardiovascular health. According to the American Heart Association, owning a pet is associated with reducing your risk of heart disease. People who have cardiovascular disease and own pets are more likely to survive heart attacks.
- Weight loss and maintenance. Walking your dog twice a day will usually provide enough exercise to control personal weight issues.
- Make new friends. Walking your dog can act as an ice-breaker to meet a new neighbor and get past the “hello” stage. Talking about your pet with other pet owners also forms a bond, and setting up pet play-dates increases social interaction between the pet owners. Pet stores and vet offices are other places to meet people who have shared interests.
- Anti-depressant. Having a cat purr next to you, or a puppy snuggle next to you can have a very calming effect and can prevent depression.
- There is an overall increase in well-being, as well as increased levels of serotonin, a “feel-good” natural hormone that comes with taking care of a pet, and receiving its unconditional love.
Things to keep in mind
- Allergies. Even if you did not have pet allergies earlier in life, it is possible to develop them anytime in your adulthood. People with severe animal allergies and should not own a cat or dog.
- Pet Care. Most dogs need to be walked, cats need to be played with, and all pets need to see a vet at least once a year for well-visits, as well as regular grooming appointments. Additionally, if a pet gets sick, it will need to be brought to a vet. If you do not have access to transportation, it may not be a good idea to get a dog or cat.
- Expenses. Pet food, vet visits, grooming, paid dog-walkers or pet-sitters all cost money. When living on a fixed, limited budget, factor in these costs before deciding to adopt a pet.
If one of the reasons mentioned above prevents you from adopting a dog or cat, do not be disappointed. There are still other ways to benefit from pet therapy – you can visit a friend who owns a pet, volunteer at an animal shelter, or get a fish (even several fish).