I wasn’t sure what my first article of 2019 was going to be, but I knew I wanted to write on something positive and upbeat. Was clueless until I took a drive yesterday and saw several people out walking their dogs. With the exception of a few toddlers, everyone, including the dogs, looked happy and content. I knew then what my next topic would be.
Lawrence Robinson and Jeanne Segal, writing in Helpguide.net, go into great detail about the benefits of pet ownership. For me, I think of companionship and caring for something other than myself. I don’t wish to offend cat lovers or owners, but I am purposely excluding them. Yes, they benefit us in many ways just as dogs do, but they’re different. As a former cat owner, I’ll leave it at that. There are numerous benefits and today I will be sharing five of those with you.
- Combats Loneliness – Namratha Rao, a MSPH candidate at the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, writing in Global Health Aging, notes that pet ownership can have a positive impact on one’s outlook and quality of life. Also, there may be decreases in disease and illness.
- Lowers Blood Pressure – Elizabeth Scott, MS, cites a University of Buffalo study showing how dogs and cats helped lower the blood pressures of the study’s participants.
- More Exercise – Gill Mein and Robert Grant, faculty members at Kingston University and St. George’s University, London, explored the association between neighborhood, dog owners, exercise and sleep. They concluded, “that Dog owners feel more positive about their neighborhood, do more exercise, and fall asleep more easily than non-dog owners.
- Caring for someone or something – Catherine Ecker, writing for Elizz, a caregiver resource, notes that focusing on the needs of a pet reduces stress and positively impacts the emotional well-being of the owner, especially seniors.
- Social Interaction – June McNicholas and Glyn M. Collis, writing for the British Psychological Society, showed in two different studies that dogs are catalysts for human interaction.
If you have been reading my articles off and on since I started writing, you may have noticed that the common thread is the idea of independence. Now, you’re asking, “How does having a pet make mom and dad more independent?” Well, it’s not a direct link, but if owning a pet makes one less lonely, lowers blood pressure, forces you to exercise more, relieves stress and helps one engage more socially, then I’d argue that greater independence might possibly be a positive benefit, especially for seniors. After all, what could it hurt?