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Why Senior Citizens Need a Dog

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As you get older, life tends to get a little lonelier. The kids have moved out of the house and started their own families. The grandkids may have even started their families. Friends you once had may not be around anymore, and life just keeps moving.

Loneliness is one reason why Senior Citizens need a dog, but research has found that having a dog has a lot of health benefits for them as well. 

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Why Senior Citizens Need a Dog for Health Reasons

Are you older than 50 and not sure if you should get a dog? Well, I am here to tell you that getting a puppy has definitely put a lot of life and energy back into my home.

But, there are many health benefits of having a dog as a senior citizen as well. Here are some of the reasons I chose to adopt a puppy!

My New Puppy Izzy

I’m sharing a picture of my new puppy today. She is from the same parents my Bailey (Shih Tzu) is from. There is something about dogs that bring me so much joy. The teething and the potty training is not fun, but I know in a few months the teething will end.

I live a pretty simple life, I love cooking at home, writing, and having friends like you to interact with. It means the world to me. And now I have two Shih Tzu’s to love and cuddle with. Do you have pets? I love to hear from you.

My new puppy Izzy

Dogs/Puppies Keep You Fit

Did you know a person with a dog walks an average of 1-hour longer each time than those walking without a dog? With a puppy, I am in and out all day long, but even walking a full-grown dog gives you exercise.

As you age, it’s easier to not worry about staying fit, but having a dog kind of forces you to try and stay more fit. 

According to a study done by the University of Missouri, those who were over 50 and walked their dog reaped in the health benefits.

They had lower body mass index, were less likely to have mobility issues, and had few doctor visits, as well as fewer serious health issues. 

Basically, having a dog keeps you fit, active, and makes sure you get the exercise you need!

Senior Citizens Need a Dog Because They Help with Stress

Let’s face it, when you’re stressed, there is nothing like a big ball of fur ready to cuddle up next to you. Exercise in itself helps reduce stress, but owning a dog offers a number of other stress-reducing perks. 

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In fact, studies have shown that just petting a dog can lower stress-induced blood pressure and heart rate. This is because spending time with your dog is believed to help release calming, stress-relieving hormones into your body. 

Dogs Make Your Heart Healthier

Along with physical activity, dogs make your heart healthier. Because owners move around more, your blood pressure is lower as well as your cholesterol.

Lower blood pressure and lower cholesterol mean you have less of a risk of heart attacks or heart failure. 

Other Reasons Why Senior Citizens Need a Dog

Among all the health benefits, there are other reasons why senior citizens need a dog. Not only does Fido help you stay healthy, but he offers you a lot of emotional support as well. Here are some other reasons you may want to consider getting a dog. 

Senior Citizens Need a Dog Because They Keep You Safe

As you get older, you can’t just run away from a dangerous situation. But, owning a dog can deter bad people from harming you. In fact, studies have shown that a barking dog deters burglaries and other violent attacks.

Additionally, dogs have a heightened sense of hearing and smell which means they can detect and alert you of danger much quicker than you could. 

Not only do dogs help keep you safe from burglaries, intruders, and dangerous situations, but they can be trained to get you to help if you fall, have a heart attack, or are in need of medical assistance. 

Dogs are There When You Need Them

They fight loneliness. When nobody else can be there, your dog is there for you. According to a report, 28% of people over the age of 65 live completely alone.

With kids starting their own life, the loss of a partner, and limited mobility, many senior citizens need a dog to combat loneliness and isolation. 

Loneliness and isolation can lead to depression. But studies have shown that owning a dog can lessen the feelings of loneliness and depression.

Even residents in nursing homes have benefitted from weekly visits with a pup. 

They Make You More Social

Another way to combat loneliness is to interact with people. However, in this fast-paced world, it can be hard to do that. Going on walks with your dog doesn’t just force you to get active, but they help you socialize with others.

Dogs make friends easily. Just take the movie 101 Dalmatians for instance. Pongo made sure to get his human interacting with someone. 

As your dog makes friends with other humans and dogs at the dog park, you will, in turn, have a conversation starter with other dog owners. 

Dogs are Amazing Companions

Dogs know just how to be a best friend. They not only are there when you need them, but they help to give you a sense of purpose in your life.

As you take care of your dog, you remember to take care of yourself. You can begin to have a routine as well as feel needed. The more you love your dog, the more they will love you. 

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Assistance Dogs

Of course, getting a dog of any breed is going to offer many health benefits to senior citizens. However, there are also many types of assistance dogs that are trained to be just what you need.

If you are thinking about getting a dog, look into these different types of assistance dogs:

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Emotional Support Dogs

These dogs are specifically trained to make sure you don’t feel lonely. An emotional support assistance dog is not trained as a service dog. They actually receive minimal training.

However, they are fully housebroken, not aggressive, well-behaved, and don’t excessively bark. 

Service Dogs

A service dog is a very highly trained dog. These dogs are trained in various areas. Most people may be familiar with a service dog that helps those who are blind, but dogs can be trained to offer services to specific needs. Here are just a few of the types of service dogs you can get:

Guide Dogs

A guide dog is a service dog that assists people with vision loss. They lead individuals around obstacles and to destinations. 

Mobility Assistance Dogs

Mobility assistance dogs increase the independence of those who are wheelchair-bound, have trouble standing, or walking. These dogs can perform the following tasks:

  • Steadying their handler
  • Helping to brace a person if they fall
  • Retrieving dropped items
  • Turning lights off and on
  • Carrying items in a backpack
  • Getting help if someone falls
  • Helping their owner get up from seated positions 
  • Opening and shutting doors 
  • Pulling a wheelchair up inclines and ramps, as well as for short distances

Service Dogs for hearing Alert

These dogs are trained to alert people with hearing loss. Some sounds may be lost as you get older, but a hearing alert service dog is able to alert you of doorbells, telephones, crying babies, sirens, another person, timers, sensors, smoke, fire, and alarm clocks.

Medical Alert Service Dogs

Medical alert service dogs are trained to know if their owner needs medical help. They can alert you when something is wrong and are able to get help if you are not conscious. 

Diabetic Alert Service Dogs

These are highly trained dogs that have noses that are a thousand times more sensitive than a human nose. They can detect a change in blood sugar levels by the metabolites given off by the skin and breath 30-minutes sooner than a glucose meter.

With a high level of training and a nose out of this world, these dogs alert their handler of an increase in glucose levels. They can also go and get help if the handler is impaired, including retrieving insulin from the fridge. 

Seizure Alert Service Dogs

A seizure alert dog is specifically trained to help someone who has epilepsy or a seizure disorder. These dogs can actually smell a seizure coming before it happens. Here are some of the tasks a seizure alert dog may do:

  • Getting help, either by finding another person or activating a medical alert or pre-programmed phone. 
  • Removing dangerous objects away from a seizing person’s body. 
  • Blocking a person with their own body from walking into obstacles, streets, or other dangerous areas. 
  • Attempting to wake an unconscious person during or after a seizure. 
  • Offering physical support of the back or head.
  • Carrying important information about the owner’s medical condition including instructions for first responders, emergency medication, and oxygen. 

Final Word

Are you thinking about getting a dog? If you are a senior citizen living alone, I would highly recommend it. Dogs make great companions, help to protect you and keep you safe, and offer many medical benefits. Stay well, my friends. May God bless this world, Linda

Copyright Images: Puppy Depositphotos_5224484_s-2019

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    1. Hi Susan, I tried so hard to find a rescue dog where I live but they mainly have large dogs and I needed one under 11 pounds or so. I finally found this one from the same breeder as my Bailey. No papers but who needs papers on a dog, right? Not me! I would love to have 5 babies!! I love hearing you have so much love around you!! Love it! Linda

  1. I enjoyed this article and agree wholeheartedly. I am 65 & my husband is a healthy 84. After our last two Pomeranians died of old age, 1 year apart. We decided to ” take a break” . We didn’t want to deal with pet loss, again. In the fall of 2019, I decided that I was too young, not to have another dog. That “break” that we took, ended up to 11 years.
    So… We tried the humane society and did not find a good fit for us. I drive part time for Uber and Lyft. One day I had a young female passenger that popped up saying “Do you need a puppy”? During the ride. I asked what she had. Lhasa-Poo. I took her contact info, and later that day, looked them up online. Within a couple days, we got our adorable Lucy. She is hilarious, exhausting, cuddly and a wonderful companion. No regrets.

    1. Hi Laura, oh my gosh, what a blessing! I almost named this puppy Lucy! But there is a little girl across the street named Lucy so I decided not to do that. But I loved the show “I Love Lucy” any way we came up with Izzy. It’s hard to get through the teething and potty training but, it’s so worth it. It’s funny you mentioned you took a break of 11 years. I think we did 2 years once as I remember. Then, I knew it was time to have a fur baby, so we took the plunge. No regrets here either!!! Life with a dog makes me so happy! Linda

      1. “I Love Lucy” was my inspiration, too. I figured if the off chance of a 2nd dog presented itself, we might an Ethel or Desi.
        I wrote wrong year. We got her in Dec 2018. She is 1 year , 4 months old.
        March 2019 I had a knee replacement. Lucy was such a puppy and that was a tough time.
        I just had the other knee replacement surgery on 2/7. She is older and wiser now. This time is easier to recover.

        1. Hi Laura, I had both knees replaced about 9 years ago. They were done 2 weeks apart. I can’t even imagine having a puppy after that surgery. Oh my gosh! Back to the names, oh my gosh! Do you remember watching the chocolate candy one with Lucy and Ethel? They had to coat the chocolate pieces and put them on the conveyer belt??? Now, I have the giggles, boy were those the best shows! You would always walk away with a smile on your face after watching them! Get well, that’s a tough surgery. Linda

  2. You said it all! My is a 87 lb 2 year old chocolate lab. He is full of energy and loves to play. A great cuddler in the chair and in bed. Better than a electric blanket. I named him Jessee after David’s father in the good book. I am 77 years old and his abundance of energy can be challenging but you are correct he does tend to get you more energized. Better than anything for combating lonelness. If a man has a dog, the good book and family that loves him even though they may be far away he has no excuse not to be happy. John

    1. OH, John, you nailed it!! You are so right, those dogs loves us no matter what! My kids live 4-6 hours away and these two puppies are the best thing when I want a cuddle! Yes, indeed we have no excuse but to be happy! Life is so good! Great comment! Linda

  3. Linda – cute puppy!

    I live in an apartment and while many of the seniors here have dogs (and cats) I just don’t think I could do it! I think a dog needs to have room to run – like a back yard! And the cost here at my complex, unless it is a service animal, is exorbitant! $250 pet deposit; $15 extra on top of my already high rent!!

    If I were to get a dog,it would have to be a very small dog, one that doesn’t shed, quiet and easily trained! I think I will just have to forego having a pet!

    1. Hi Leanne, I totally understand. That $15.00 extra a month on top of a deposit, yikes! My dogs do not shed but then I have to have them groomed every 4 weeks, another expense. My Bailey does not bark, thank goodness. I trained her from day one. This new puppy hopefully will not bark either. I have to have quiet during the day. Well, except for the TV!!! LOL! You can always go to the park and watch the dogs run around. Life is good either way! Linda

  4. Linda, I always thought you must be a lovely person–now I know so!
    My last dog–Nemesis, a black Lab–died when my parents were still with me… Mother was afraid that if we got a puppy it would be upset if she died… So we didn’t replace Nemesis, and my DH says he doesn’t really like dogs, prefers cats (we do have one). At least I’ve got the horses, and frequent visits/work with the foxhounds. (There’s one getting close to retirement–the huntsman and I may have to fight over her!)

    Quite aside from the beneficial companionship–yes, even a little dog will make burglars, etc., think twice. Best alarm there is. And out where I am, a dog helps keep troublesome wildlife away (like the bobcat that’s gotten so many of my chickens). Of course doggie has to learn to leave the chickens alone too…

    1. Hi Rhonda, thank you for your kind words. I wrote this article because I’m so excited about my new puppy, (it’s so hard, teething and the potty training) but I know it’s short-lived. I love having a couple of dogs around. I just turned 70 and looking back I wish I had gotten my mom a dog before she died years ago. She was so lonely and would have loved the companionship. So, here I am at my age with 2 dogs. I love it! Linda

  5. Hello again Linda. I just had to say that I too wish I had thought about a small dog (or) even a kitten for my Mom well before she passed away some years ago! She seemed lonely as well, and it has always made me wonder what happened to the Golden Years??? I’m 77 now & Sylvia and I have always had a kitten (cat) and we still do now. The worst part about these beautiful little animals is when they come to the end of their lives…very painful.
    Well, we love your picture with your little furry & wish you good health. And remember to stay safe!

    1. HI Jake and Sylvia, I used to have a cat many years ago, they are so loving. It is so hard to lose a family cat or dog. They are family to us. I’m with you what happened to the golden years!!!???? That’s why we have pets! Stay safe and stay well!! Linda

  6. Hi Linda! January 2019 we put down our 19 year old German Shepherd after a year and a half of illness. I desperately wanted another dog, but didn’t want to have only one! April 2019 I was online and found two sweet little brothers from a rescue!!! They had just lost their 94 year old mom and needed to stay together, and needed a home with no children! They are 10 year old ShiChi’s (Shih Tzu / Chihuahua cross). Raz and Taz! They still have behavior problems (I don’t think they were ever house broken!) but don’t want us out of their sight! They LOVE to cuddle in chairs and bed! I am SO GLAD we got them. My husband and I are both 64 and agree that seniors need a dog! (I tried to add their picture, but couldn’t do it.)

      1. Thank you! I am glad you enjoyed it. I love it when they realize you are starting to wake up and start licking you! Their tongues are the size of a cat’s tongue!!! They are so happy to see you waking up!!!
        Just gotta love them! 😉

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