In honor of National Dog Day (August 26th), we wanted to share some fun facts about owning a pet, especially as you near retirement.

Whether you consider yourself a dog or cat person, both animals offer many health benefits for seniors. Let’s review a few examples.

What are the Advantages of Having a Dog or Cat?

According to studies conducted by the Human Animal Bond Research Initiative, both dogs and cats can help:

  • Reduce stress and depression
  • Lower blood pressure & cholesterol levels
  • Strengthen your immune system
  • Improve mental health and wellness

Pet ownership may also increase opportunities for:

  • Exercise and outdoor activities
  • Socialization

According to the American Heart Association, it’s reported that the interaction with dogs can help give your “happy hormones” (i.e., oxytocin, serotonin, and dopamine) a healthy boost: “This can lead to a greater sense of well-being and help lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol.”

A study also found that dog ownership has been linked to longer life expectancy among individuals living with a pre-existing heart condition or recovering from a major heart event. 

But dogs aren’t the only furry companions that provide great health benefits. Did you know that cats have been shown to help reduce the risk of having a stroke by more than a third? In fact, even owning a fish can help significantly reduce anxiety, blood pressure, and heart rate.

Whether you need to ease tension or need motivation to stay active, upbeat, and happy during your retirement years, owning a pet can be more beneficial than you realize.

That’s why pets are often welcomed into nursing homes, schools, hospitals, and even in areas where a natural disaster has occurred to bring comfort, affection, and a sense of calm. Some colleges and universities even bring pets to campus during midterm and final exam weeks to help students manage their stress, relax, and smile.

Best Pets for Seniors

While the rewards of pet ownership are numerous, it can still be a challenge to find the right pet for you or to care for one individually.

Everyone is different, so choosing the right pet for your home takes careful planning and research. Here are a few things to consider while making your decision.

Consider the Type of Pet

As we mentioned earlier, it seems that any pet you can think of provides certain health benefits to you and your family. Before you can adopt a pet, you first need to consider whether you want a dog, cat, fish, bird, etc.

We recommend considering the type of care each animal will require. Dogs are a little more high maintenance than most pets, so if you’re not looking for too much added responsibility, you may consider a cat or fish. Of course, that is not to say that dogs don’t provide plenty of love and companionship that you believe outweighs the time and energy it takes to own one.

Consider the Breed

If you are looking for a dog, the temptation to choose a breed based on looks or “cuteness” should be avoided. 

Some types of dogs can be very energetic and demand a lot of time from their owners, while others are typically more relaxed and “indoor pets.” Spend some time researching the breeds you are most interested in and determining whether you want a puppy or an older dog. 

The more you know what you need based on your living situation and daily routine, the easier your search will become and the less heartache you will experience once you take your pet home.

Understand the Pet Rules

Unless you are living in your own house, there may be some rules you need to follow regarding pet ownership. If you reside in a senior living community or apartment home and are interested in buying a pet, make sure that pet ownership is allowed. 

If so, it’s also good to ask about size restrictions and maximum number of pets allowed per living space.

Know the Costs of Pet Care

While it may seem obvious, it’s still important to remember that pets cost money! Oftentimes, people will purchase a pet without thinking of the cost associated with food, veterinary visits, boarding, toys, and much more. 

Be sure you take these costs into consideration when deciding whether pet ownership is right for you.

All Seniors and Pets Are Welcome at Sweetwater

Sweetwater is proud to offer a pet-friendly retirement living community. We love pets just as much as you do, and we understand their invaluable ability to keep our residents healthy, happy, and active. 

That is why if you own a pet or are considering adopting one, please know that both you and your pet can both look forward to calling Sweetwater your new home.

If you or a loved one have questions about our communities, we would be honored to help! You can either give us a call or fill out our online form for more details. We’d love to schedule an in-person visit for you to explore our community. You can also take a virtual tour at your leisure and contact us with any questions.

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