The Healing Power of Pets for Seniors

Those furry friends are more than just cute, they offer a number of physical and mental health benefits. Studies have shown that pets—whether a dog, cat, parakeet or even a horse—are therapeutic and can improve the overall well-being of the elderly.

Here’s our 6 favorite benefits to give aging seniors a health boost. 


1. Pets Help Prevent Heart Diseases
Research suggests that having a pet can lead to improved heart health through supporting a healthy lifestyle lowering blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglyceride levels decreasing the risk of cardiovascular disease. In one study of older adults with pre-to mild hypertension, dog ownership was associated with lower systolic and diastolic blood pressure.

2. Pets can Speed up Recovery
Our pets can help us recover from an illness, stroke, surgery, or a fall. Pets are so good at helping us see the bright side that many hospitals, rehabilitation centers, and long-term care centers have established pet visitation programs for patients.


3. Pets Improve Depression & Anxiety Symptoms
Pets can have an astounding effect on symptoms of depression and anxiety. Having a pet in the house provides a reason for seniors to get up in the morning. Having a furry friend to greet them each day reminds seniors that they are still capable of being loved and needed. Knowing they are needed creates a sense of worth and enhances their mental health. 

4. Pets can Relieve Stress
Aging seniors who are under stress can benefit from having a pet in the home. Typical stressors seniors experience are the loss of a loved one, change in physical abilities (vision, hearing, mobility, etc.) and even too much unstructured time on your hands. Studies have shown being with a pet increases levels of serotonin, the “feel good” hormone that relieves stress. Studies also show that aging adults feel more relaxed after spending time with a pet.

5. Pets Combat Loneliness
Researchers found that petting a dog, holding a cat or watching a bird can brighten up the mood of a lonely senior. Pets provide companionship, giving isolated seniors a source for affection, conversation and activity. 

6. Improve Physical Health
Increased physical activity are another way pets, especially dogs, can influence their owners’ health. Being with a furry friend encourages physical activity which in turn has countless health benefits. Even if it is just a short walk once a day or playing fetch in the house, you are improving your mind and body health. 

Pets add joy, love, and warmth to our lives and caring for another living being can offer us a strong sense of meaning and purpose. 

We love to educate our neighbors and provide needed resources. For more helpful information visit our resources page.