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Why Should Seniors Have a Dog?

Saturday, Aug. 26 is National Dog Day, a celebration of all breeds of canine and an effort to raise awareness to the number of dogs that need to be rescued each year in the United States. Here at Bethesda Senior Living Communities, we welcome and encourage residents to bring their furry, feathered or finned friend along. There is incredible therapeutic value for seniors having a pet, and dogs in particular offer tremendous love and support.

In recognition of National Dog Day, here are five benefits seniors enjoy from having a pet:

1. Dogs offer physiological benefits to their owners.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, owning a pet can help lower your blood pressure, cholesterol levels and triglyceride levels, as well as alleviating feelings of loneliness. Even marginal improvements in cardiovascular health have a big impact for seniors, so the lower blood pressure and cholesterol alone are reason enough to get a dog.

2. Dogs help their owners stay fit.

Dogs love a good walk, and thrive on hitting the pavement a mile or two every day. Taking a daily walk is possibly the best habit a senior can develop to stay healthy. Having a canine companion at your side not only keeps you motivated, it makes the walk more enjoyable. Beyond a one- or two-mile walk, dog owners also enjoy playing fetch in the park or other outdoor activities.

3. Dogs help us relax.

Stress tests show that having a dog around helps lower tension. Spending a few minutes with a dog can lower your blood pressure, helping you feel more relaxed. Researchers also believe dogs trigger the release of serotonin and dopamine—two of the brain’s feel-good chemicals.

4. Dogs offer powerful emotional support.

Seniors in particular are at risk when it comes to feelings of depression and loneliness. Having a canine companion in the house reduces that sense of feeling alone and improve a sense of well-being. Warding off loneliness helps improve cognition and stave off mental decline and disease.

5. Dogs gives us social connection.

Nothing helps break the ice like a dog. Whether you are meeting a stranger in the park or looking for something to talk about at a social event, your dog is a great subject most people can relate to. You don’t have to own a dog for long before you collect a few funny stories or interesting observations that can help you strike up a conversation.

There’s a reason we call dogs “man’s best friend.” If you are looking for a furry friend, visit your local animal shelter or rescue today.