Top 10 Incredible Advantages and Disadvantages of Elderly People Owning A Dog

Are you planning on owning a pet? That's great news ! Having a pet in your household has lots of health benefits. According to National Center for Health Research  ''Research studies have found that people who have a pet have healthier hearts, stay homesick less often, make fewer visits to the doctor, get more exercise and are less depressed.''

Psychologists suggest, pets, especially dogs live for the moment. They are happy to be awake after a long night's sleep and embrace the new day. Some of this energy is transferred to the owner. This can often create a positivity in the entire household.

Lead researcher Allen R. McConnell, PhD, Miami University in Ohio, conducted a study on the benefits of ordinary people owning a pet vs non-owners. The study was published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology by APA. ''We observed evidence that pet owners faired better, both in terms of well-being outcomes and individual differences, than non-owners on several dimensions. Specifically, pet owners had greater self-esteem, were more physically fit, tendered to be less lonely, were more conscientious , were more extraverted, tendered to be less fearful and tendered to be less pre-occupied than non-owners''

For our older citizens, pets can be a great companion. Owning a dog would mean, short walks in the park, cuddling , throwing a ball once in a while, watching tv together, having a good listener in the house and sharing peanut butter (unless there are specific allergies involved). But having a dog might not be ideal for all older folks. The following are the 10 advantages and disadvantages of having a dog.

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1. Great for Companionship

Dogs can be a great companion for the elderly. It's great to wake up and be greeted by an excited yet adorable friend everyday. Dogs make you follow your schedule and it might be annoying to start off with but soon enough you start enjoying it. A dog's nature to follow the owner and understand the owner's emotions is a great way to feel loved.

2. Great for Your Health

Dogs can be a great support for a healthy heart. The American Heart Association says '' People who have dogs live longer than people who have cats, and the assumption has been that dogs naturally cause their owners to be more active'' suggests Dr. Thomas Lee.  According to an articlewritten at Harvard Medical School'' The evidence reviewed by the AHA indicates that dog owners are more likely to exercise, have a better cholesterol profile, have lower blood pressure, be less vulnerable to physical effects of stress, and be more likely to survive a heart attack.

3. Great for Safety

Having a dog gives you the feeling of security. A stranger by the door, a group of mischievous kids, a fatal gas leak or a fire, a dog could sniff it out and warn you immediately. A trained dog can warn the neighbours incase you are facing a health emergency. Dogs are also successfully used for supporting handicapped citizens.

4. Great for Happiness

It is a little known fact that spending time with a dog releases a hormone called oxytocin or the 'love hormone'. This factor itself helps reducing stress, avoids depression and mood swings and generates a level of positivity and forward thinking. All of this is highly beneficial for older and younger crowd.

5. Great for Active Life

If you have back problem and your doctor has recommended you to walk a bit everyday, having a dog is the ideal option. A dog keeps you active whether its time to play, a walk in the park, an adventure tour in the garden, or a usual evening of running after the neighbour's cat. An active life leads to healthier mind.

6. Great for Grandchildren

Plan on having your grandchildren over ? Dogs can help. Children love dogs and dogs love children. Dogs can be a great magnet to invite your family over for Sunday brunch. Dogs also help children better prepare for fighting allergies. Children who are exposed to dogs grow up having greater empathy.

7. Great for Social Life

Dogs can also enhance your social life. Regularly visiting dog friendly parks and meeting other pet owners can build new friendship. In addition to that, people respond kindly to pet owners with a dog. It can help with asking strangers for directions or just a 'how do you do' in a grocery store.

8. Great for Memory

Dogs are a great support for the enhancement of short term memory especially among older crowd. They will mirror your day to day activity and remind you of certain things. For example : if you are laying in the bed for unusually long period of time, they might notice that and jump on the bed trying to be curious of whats going on. The same thing might happen if you miss out on any day to day activities scheduled with the dog.

9. Great for Stress Reduction

Dogs help to a great extend in stress reduction. It brings positive energy to the entire household.

10. Great for Recovering from Illness

It might be surprising but dogs help patients recover faster. It is a known fact that older patients who continues to have a happy life, a strong will to live and forward looking attitude, gets cured faster. Dogs act as a catalyst in increasing these positive behaviour.



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1. Requires Time for Training

A dogs requires multiple sorts of training. So time and patience has to be invested into that. We also cannot forget that just like humans, our dogs are not perfect. They tend to forget their training, so constant training upgrade can be required.

2. Requires your home to be cleaned more often

Having a dog in the house would mean cleaning the house more frequently. This can be especially troubling for older folks who don't have external help for house cleaning. If your are located in Berlin, you can most certainly use home cleaning services like Helpling or Book A Tiger.

3. Requires Veterinary Visits

Dogs need vet visits for minimum 3 times a year (Vaccinations, stomach worms, flea treatment). This can of course vary from year to year. However, taking a dog to a veterinary clinic can be a huge hassle. But you can always use our mobile veterinary service where the vets come to your home : HUG A PET.

4. Requires financial Stability

No matter how you put it, dogs can be expensive. Food, treats, toys, taxes and of course if it gets sick. Having a stable financial situation is highly required.

5. Requires Allergy check for kids and Elder folks

If you or any member of your family has dog related allergy, having a dog would be heavily problematic. Check with your family members before owning a dog

6. Requires Consistent Activity Everyday

Having a dog would also mean daily walks and strolls in park. Whether its raining or its cold, whether you are unwell or you are not home, someone needs to take your dog outside. A bored dog can become hyper active in your home. It can possibly hamper your night's sleep by trying to play with you. In these situations, you can always use a pet sitter from Pawshake.

7. Requires Understanding Safety Rules for Elder folks

A younger dog can be very playful. This can potentially lead to accidents. Certain factors such as : your dog walking too fast on an icey street, your dog pulling the leash down the stairs, your dog rashly trying to jump on another dog, your dog making you run behind it. These situations can get risky especially for older folks. However, a good training can overcome these problems.

8. Requires the Right Breed of Dog

Not all breeds are right for a potential elderly dog owner. Consult with an expert before adoping a puppy.

9. Requires the Right Age of Dog

Age is another factor that is critical before adoping a dog. Puppies tend to need more attention than a young dog. We suggest you to check your personal schedule to make sure you are available.

10.  Requires the Right Time

Time is another very important factor to check before adopting a dog. Is the dog owner in a state where he or she can take care of the dog. Is there a likely situation where it could get difficult to take care of the dog 2 years down the line. No one can predict the future, however its always great to think rationally as dogs are a big responsibility.

That said, I personally love dogs and I hope more and more people adopt dogs. Let me know what you think.

Do you have more questions ? Talk to Dr. Detlef Apelt

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