While any pet owner can certainly attest to the many benefits of living with a furry friend, research confirming the health benefits of senior pet ownership have appeared in many well-respected publications and medical journals.

Studies have shown that the bond between people and their pets can increase fitness, lower stress, and bring happiness to their owners. Some of the health benefits of having a pet include: decreased blood pressure, decreased cholesterol and triglyceride levels, decreased feelings of loneliness and increased opportunities for socialization.

 

 

Research

Pet Ownership and Cardiovascular Risk A Scientific Statement From the American Heart Association

Pet ownership, particularly dog ownership, may have some causal role in reducing CVD risk.

Get Healthy, Get a Dog: The health benefits of canine companionship

Ongoing research is showing that the health benefits of owning a dog are undeniable. Dog owners have lower blood pressure and healthier cholesterol levels, and a lower risk of heart disease, than non-owners.

Dog Walking, the Human-Animal Bond and Older Adults' Physical Health

Dog walking was associated with lower body mass index, fewer activities of daily living limitations, fewer doctor visits, and more frequent moderate and vigorous exercise. People with higher degrees of pet bonding were more likely to walk their dog and to spend more time walking their dog each time, but they reported walking a shorter distance with their dog than those with weaker pet bonds. Dog ownership was not associated with better physical health or health behaviors.

Setting the One Health Agenda and the Human-Companion Animal Bond

Setting the one health agenda and the human-companion animal bond – The goal of this paper is to briefly review some of the evidenced-based data concerning the benefits of having companion animals in our lives, focusing on four major areas; cancer, heart disease, autism spectrum disorder (ASD), and the potential positive economic effects of the human-companion animal bond on One Health.

The Benefits of Human–Companion Animal Interaction: A Review

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The effects of animals on human health and well‐being

Substantial sums of money are invested annually in preventative medicine and therapeutic treatment for people with a wide range of physical and psychological health problems, sometimes to no avail. There is now mounting evidence to suggest that companion animals, such as dogs and cats, can enhance the health of their human owners and may thus contribute significantly to the health expenditure of our country.

Older Latinos, Pets and Health

The majority of the findings regarding pet ownership, interaction, and the human-animal bond have involved only Caucasians or have included other ethnic group members only incidentally. The extent to which older adults from other ethnic groups may benefit from pet ownership and interaction is unclear. If the benefits of human-animal interaction are to be used effectively in promoting health and preventing illness, it is necessary to identify the “boundaries” of effectiveness for this interaction across various populations. The present study is an initial effort at describing one ethnic minority group, Latino pet owners, the extent of their relationships with their pet, and the extent to which these relationships maybe beneficial in facilitating health. Twenty-four Latinos over age 50 were studied and are described in terms of their demographic characteristics, relationships with their pets, health, and exercise practices. The findings suggest that the participants were very devoted to their pets, had been involved with pets since child-hood, and viewed themselves as healthy.

Companion Animals and the Role They Play with our Senior Citizens

Supports the benefits for elderly with companion animals – mentions PFE

Pet ownership may be a factor in improved health of the elderly.

The familiar adage “pets are good for your health” is an interesting but largely untested theory. A new model was developed, based on pet ownership leads to better self care, to show possible associations between pet ownership with eating, exercise, nutritional status, and specific cardiovascular risk factors. Seniors aged sixty and above were solicited mainly at senior congregate meals program sites in north-central Colorado (n = 127) to participate in this cross-sectional, observational study. Statistical analyses of questionnaire, anthropometrie, physiological, and biochemical data were performed. Dog owners walked significantly longer than non-owners, and pet owners had significantly lower serum triglycerides than non-owners. Results suggest that pets may be good for your health.

Elderly people in many respects benefit from interaction with dogs

The results of the study reveal the manifold meanings that pets - in particular dogs - can and do have to the elderly. At this point, it should also be noted that there is still a strong need for further research into this topic from a gerontological perspective.

Pet Therapy Provides Far-reaching Health Benefits For Older Adults

Online magazine article: Between encouraging exercise and soothing lonely hearts, pet adoption can help bring better health to their senior owners.

Measuring the Benefits: Companion Animals and the Health of Older Persons

Improvements in the precision, quality and rigour of research methodologies will undoubtedly enable significant progress to be made in this important field of research, and are therefore strongly recommended. Any practical, truly useful evaluation of ways in which the well-being of older people in the community can be enhanced requires a deepening of the exploration into their relationships, including those with companion animals. Furthermore, advances in the creation of age-friendly societies, such as those brought about by facilitating positive interactions between older citizens and animals, can only have a positive influence upon the health of society as a whole

Pet therapy in elderly patients with mental illness

Pet therapy is efficient in improving depressive symptoms and cognitive function in residents of long-term care facilities with mental illness.

Why Canine Companions Are Good for Our Health

Online magazine article – supports the benefits for elderly with companion animals

Pet Therapy: Enhancing Social and Cardiovascular Wellness in Community Dwelling Older Adults.

Pet therapy can be therapeutic for older adults living in the community. A crossover design was used to examine changes in blood pressure and heart rate before and after a pet therapy visit versus a volunteer-only visit in 28 community dwelling older adults. Relationships among stress, pet attitude, social support, and health status were also examined. Study findings supported that pet therapy significantly decreased blood pressure and heart rate. Ultimately, the findings supported the notion that community health nurses should consider developing and implementing pet therapy programs in the communities they serve. Further implications for community health nurses are discussed.

The mediating effect of pet attachment support between loneliness and general health in older females living in the community

The relationship between loneliness and general health was investigated in 159 older females living in the community. Pet attachment support, a variable tested as a mediator of this relationship, was examined also. Participants completed the Revised UCLA Loneliness Scale, a Pet Attachment scale, and the Psychological General Well-Being Schedule: general health subscale. A negative relationship between loneliness and general health decreased when controlling for pet attachment support as a coping mechanism. The findings from this study support that pet attachment support has a mediating effect on the relationship between loneliness and general health in this sample of older females. Implications for community health nurses and public policy are discussed.

Senior adults can see health benefits from dog ownership

Among adults 60 years of age or more, walking is the most common form of leisure-time physical activity because it is self-paced, low impact and does not require equipment. Researchers have determined that older adults who also are pet owners benefit from the bonds they form with their canine companions.

Pet Ownership and Cardiovascular Risk

Pet ownership, particularly dog ownership, is probably associated with decreased Cardiovascular Disease (CVD) risk AND Pet ownership, particularly dog ownership, may have some causal role in reducing CVD risk.

The value of pets for human health

Support the various ways pets improve human health

Cardiovascular reactivity and the presence of pets, friends, and spouses: the truth about cats and dogs.

The presence of a pet dog or cat resulted in lower heart rate and blood pressure responses relative to the presence of a friend or spouse, in people exposed to the psychological stressor of mental arithmetic, and the physical stressor of a cold pressor test. It must be assumed that the animal in this context serves as a buffer or distraction to the stressful situation.

The effects of animal-assisted therapy on loneliness in an elderly population in long-term care facilities.

Animal Assisted Therapy reduces loneliness in residents of long-term care facilities.

Dogs as catalysts for social interactions

Walking with a dog results in a significantly higher number of chance conversations with complete strangers than walking alone

The Positive Effects of Pets on Seniors

There are a number of health benefits to owning a pet. They include:

  • Reduction of blood pressure
  • Reduction of depressed mood by increasing serotonin and dopamine levels
  • Reduction of visits to a doctor.Increased opportunities to exercise
  • Opportunity to meet new people
  • Reduction in loneliness.

The Benefits of Pets for Human Health

The research findings are encouraging, so it makes sense to conduct more studies on how human-animal interaction influences our health. We don’t yet know precisely what types of animals influence what types of health issues (physical, mental, and social well-being) and what characteristics about human-animal interaction are most important. People who have pets know that there are many benefits to having a companion animal, but we do not yet know under what circumstances those benefits are most likely. If research shows specific health benefits under specific circumstances, that information can be used to change policies in ways that benefit even more adults and children, by influencing rules and regulations for schools, health or assisted living facilities, residential treatment centers, and other places where people’s exposure to animals is sometimes discouraged but could potentially be encouraged.

Pet ownership, but not ace inhibitor therapy, blunts home blood pressure responses to mental stress

ACE inhibitor therapy alone lowers resting blood pressure, whereas increased social support through pet ownership lowers blood pressure response to mental stress.

Cats & Seniors

Cat ownership among seniors can improve mood and health

Pets help cure loneliness in seniors

Pets help cure loneliness in seniors

Published Articles

Why Having a Pet (of Any Kind!) May Boost Your Mood and Keep Your Brain Healthy

Understanding how animals contribute to good health

Dog owners: Less heart disease and longer life?

The 12-year study included over 3.4 million Swedish adults ages 40 to 80. Using data from national health sources and dog ownership registries, researchers found that dog owners had a lower risk of death due to heart disease.

Owning a Pet May Protect You from Heart Disease

Owning pets is associated with reducing your risk of heart disease, and there are a variety of reasons that may be at work that influence this relationship. It may be that healthier people are more likely to be pet owners or that people with dogs tend to exercise more. Pets also play a role in providing social support to their owners, which is an important factor in helping you stick with a new habit or adopting a new healthy behavior.

10 Reasons Older People Need Pets

Having a pet helps elderly get out of the house, exercise, meet new people, reduce stress, etc.

Benefits of the Human Animal Bond

Examples of therapy animals improving the physical, social & emotional health of clients

The Healing Power of Pets for Elderly People

For elderly pet owners, who often live alone or in group facilities, pets can help reduce stress, lower blood pressure, increase social interaction and physical activity and help them learn.

Health Benefits of Pet Ownership for Seniors

Supports health benefits of owning a pet.

Pet ownership may be a factor in improved health of the elderly.

Supports the benefits for elderly with companion animals.

Measuring the Benefits: Companion Animals and the Health of Older Persons

Between encouraging exercise and soothing lonely hearts, pet adoption can help bring better health to their senior owners.

Why Canine Companions Are Good for Our Health

Online magazine article – supports the benefits for elderly with companion animals

Senior Health: The Paw-sitive Effects Of Pets

There are a number of health benefits to owning a pet. They include:

  • Reduction of blood pressure.
  • Reduction of depressed mood by increasing serotonin and dopamine levels.
  • Reduction of visits to a doctor.Increased opportunities to exercise.
  • Opportunity to meet new people.
  • Reduction in loneliness.

The Benefits of Pets for Human Health

Lists positive effects of pets on senior health – both physical and psychological

Cat Ownership Among Seniors Can Improve Mood and Health

Cats make great companions for people of all ages and walks of life. Cats are especially great company for senior citizens for a variety of reasons.

Pets help cure loneliness in seniors

A new study proves that pets can cheer up lonely seniors and enhance quality of life.

10 Reasons to Get a Dog When You’re Over 50

If your nest is empty – by circumstance or by choice – think about getting a dog. Known for their devotion and happy dances, dogs can take a big bite out of isolation. Just hanging out with a furry friend, studies show, has a revitalizing effect.

Owning A Dog Has Health Benefits For Seniors

Seniors get health benefits from the bonds they form with their doggy companions