Today we will focus our discussion on dogs and the Elderly. Few weeks ago we wrote about the many benefits of improved emotional and physical health our Seniors may obtain from ownership and companionship of a cat. The aforementioned health benefits clearly extend to dog ownership as well.
Some would argue that dogs, with some exceptions, are more social than cats. Instead of offering more statistics, we will share with you two short stories of dogs and the relationships they have built with the Elderly. These stories demonstrate the social benefits, the bond, and relationships that have developed between them. We hope you will enjoy them. Here is the first story.
Lucy has been my best friend for the last 12 years. I had her since she was a puppy. She is always by my side, like no human being can ever be. She is the first one to greet me in the morning. She even stays with me in the bathroom when I take a shower. We go for morning walks together. We eat breakfast together. She alerts me when the post office carrier walks near the front door and drops off the mail. Her presence makes me more active because I have to take her for a walk 2-4 times every day. I probably benefit from those walks more than she does. Lucy is my constant companion during the day and at night. She actually sleeps right by my side, and perhaps because of her, I sleep like a baby.
Here is the second short story…
Rambo is my best friend. Being a german shepherd, he makes me feel protected. Even though he is a large dog, and my husband named him Rambo, he is unusually gentle. He is so intuitive, and when he noticed my difficulties with walking, he made sure he was never in my way. He is so understanding — much more understanding than my husband. I live on a fixed income, and during the cold nights of late fall, winter and early spring, when I try to save on my heating expenses, Rambo, who sleeps on my bed, actually serves as my furnace. I feel that he listens and truly understands me. He never argues. We enjoy each other’s company. He is my best friend.
Those two short stories serve as an insight and substantiate the many emotional and physical health benefits that often accompany dog ownership by the Elderly.
We must keep in mind that even though pets give unconditional love, they also need loving care in return — and not just loving care, but also healthcare. Veterinary care per dog averages $227 annually, whereas vet care for a cat averages $90 annually . That financial discrepancy may be attributable to the fact that most cats are strictly house cats, and as such they may be less frequently exposed to outdoor bacteria and viruses. Outdoor animals also require more frequent bathing and grooming. Dogs, especially younger and larger dogs with lots of energy to burn, may jump, push, pull on the leash, and thereby increase the likelihood of a fall and injury to Seniors. If your aging Mom or Dad is considering dog ownership, it is important to consider the risk, and not just the benefits.
With love for the Elderly…
1. “U.S. Pet Ownership Statistics.” American Veterinary Medical Association. Web. 6 Apr 2016.
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