The benefits of pets for older adults

For those who have a pet, their furry friend is a true part of the family. Half of adults in the UK own a pet, with cats and dogs being by far the most popular pet choice.

It is known that there are many health benefits to owning a pet – both physically and mentally! Not only do they keep you fit, through walking, feeding and caring for them, but our furry friends can significantly increase mood, create companionship and can help lower the risk of loneliness or depression. Owning a pet is also known to reduce stress levels, and studies have proven that pet ownership is linked to lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

If you are an older person, adding a pet to your lifestyle, may add to your well-being, fitness, and mental health.

The benefits can include:

Increased physical activity
Setting a daily routine – if you struggle with motivation, a pet can help create a daily routine for you follow, including morning walks or feeding
There is a pet for everyone! If you are struggling with limited mobility, try a pet that doesn’t require a lot of activity – like birds, cats or goldfish
True companionship. With a pet in the home, there is less chance for loneliness to develop. Your furry friend can be there for you if you are feeling down or alone
They can help you make friends! Having a pet is a great conversation starter, which can help get you talking to other people and making new connections

Getting out and about – this isn’t just for a daily walk, but includes going to the vet, the grooming salon, or the shop to buy food or treats, helping prevent being stuck inside all day

 

Tips for choosing the perfect pet

Although the benefits sound amazing, adopting a pet sometimes isn’t as simple as it seems.

You will have to ensure that the pet is properly cared for, that the pet is of the correct temperament, and that it has alternative care options if you became incapable of looking after them.

Here are our top tips:

Think of pets that you have owned previously. Have you owned a cat in the past? If you are familiar with the care the animal needs, this will help you easily adapt to a new pet in your lifestyle
Consider the exercise that the pet will need – if you have limited mobility, a young puppy who needs long walks is perhaps not the most suitable fit
Consider the temperament of the breed – try to choose a breed of animal that is known to be calmer and more relaxed
Consider your finances – some pets are a lot more expensive to care for than others
Create a back-up plan for the pet – in case of emergency, ensure that the pet has somewhere to go or be looked after, so this can be at the back of your mind if an emergency was to occur, or if you became incapable of caring for the pet

If it is limited mobility that is stopping you from adopting a pet, why not visit our range of mobility aids here. They may give you the ability and confidence to welcome a new friend into your home.

If you have a pet, we would love to see them! Send your paw-some photos to [email protected] and they may be featured online sometime soon!

For more advice and information on pets and what they need, why not visit the RSPCA website here.