By Karen A. Soukiasian
Besides companionship, dogs provide senior citizens with several physical and emotional benefits.
Medical research has found when older people have a pet; it helps to lower blood pressure, plus increases their amount of exercise.
Some studies have shown it can even help decelerate a few forms of dementia, because of the responsibilities involved in owning a pet, aids in keeping the person focused on something.
It keeps them sharp, because it reinforces their sense of responsibility.
Psychologically, a dog provides a sense of security, encourages social interactions and activities. It also helps ease the feeling of isolation and loneliness. Everyone wants to feel needed. Seniors are no exception. The unconditional love and affection received from a dog, as well as the need to touch and be touched, is of immense value for healthier mental well-being.
The third question is, puppy or dog?
Let’s face it, even though having a puppy sounds like a fun idea to keep Gramps moving…is it really? Will Gramps be able to patiently deal with the trials and tribulations of the inevitable issues of excess energy, teething, obedience training, housebreaking and chewing? Is someone in the family willing to take the animal, should Gramps reach the point where he has had enough or can no longer care for it?
Here is where it may be a better idea to adopt or rescue an older or even a senior dog.
Someone else has done all the hard work! Odds are, the reason that particular dog is available is because their previous owner was too old to care for them or passed away. Don’t think for a minute, the dog doesn’t feel that loss! They too need affection, care, and a sense of belonging. Most likely, they were pampered and adored.
Here is a list of dogs, recommended for older people. They come in small, medium and large…something for everyone! Give it a lot of thought. Make sure the size decided on is right for the person.
The best small dogs include Pug, Yorkshire or Silky Terrier, Havanese, West Highland Terrier, Italian Greyhound, Chihuahua, Shih Tzu, Pomeranian, Bichon Frise, Maltese and Boston Terrier. Even as older dogs, these little guys still have enough spunk to keep things interesting and entertaining. Yet, they love to do the snuggle thing. A minimum amount of exercise a day, and they are good to go! Some do need more grooming than others, so consider that when making your decision.
Medium breeds include Cocker Spaniel, Miniature Poodle, or Miniature Schnauzer. Again, these dogs need just enough exercise per day that will keep them and Gramps in good shape. They are intelligent and affectionate. All three love to be the center of attention and if properly trained, should not be a problem to walk.
Older large breeds such as Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers and Greyhounds, normally have passed the point where they need oodles of exercise.
Find a well-behaved older large breed, adequately exercise and continue to train them…they will love it!
Remember, All-American mutts come in all sizes too! An older mixed breed may be the perfect pet!
Bottom line: If there is any question as to who will “inherit” the dog, consider an older one. Whatever time and love shared between senior dog and senior owner will be the most precious gift they can ever give to each other.
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