Pets are Good For You Doggone It!

April 25, 2023 | Blog | Reading Time 2:00 Minutes

In the Joyous Company of Pets at Millcroft Living

The happiness produced by pet ownership brings health benefits not just to the pets but also to their owners.

Just thinking about cuddling a furry kitty on your lap with its calming purrs or seeing a dog wagging its tail in greeting when you open the front door reduces stress.

Cats and dogs are the most popular pets in the U.S. but aren’t the only ones that bring happiness. A bird chirping in a cage and even a brightly colored fish skimming through the aquarium water can bring vibrancy and fun to owners’ lives.

PetKeen reports that the most popular pet are dogs, which are found in 69 million homes in the U.S., followed by cats in 45.3 million households, freshwater fish in 11.8 million households and birds in 9.9 million.

Any pet owner will tell you it’s hard to be in a bad mood when your pooch looks at you with loving eyes, your cat is lazing in the sun, or your bird is repeating your words.

Studies show that owning a pet provides health benefits to older adults. Here are a few examples:

Improves cognitive health:

Owning a pet for more than five years can help you stay mentally sharp as you age, according to a study reported by researchers at the University of Florida.

Researchers have also found that adults ages 50 or older who had owned any kind of pet for more than five years experienced a slower decline in verbal memory — being able to recall words, for example — over time compared to non-pet owners.

Boosts Heart Health:

Owning a pet, particularly a dog, promotes physical exercise, which leads to better heart health.

Stress Relief:

Ninety-five percent of pet owners report they rely on their pets for stress relief, according to a report in the Harvard Heart Letter.

A Sense of Purpose:

Having another being to care for means you have to be there for them when they need you. For pet owners, that means feeding, grooming or walking their furry—and not furry friends. Those tasks shape the day for older adults who often must stick to a routine to give their pets the best care possible.  

While owning a pet may not be for everyone, there are ways to have one in your life through volunteering. Humane Animal Partners, with locations in Newark and Wilmington, Delaware, depend on volunteers working directly with pets, answering phones, etc. This allows people to interact with dogs and cats without committing to owning one. Millcroft Living is proud to be a pet-friendly senior living community. In fact, we have Buddy Millcroft, our dog owned by a resident and loved by the entire community.