Anyone who has ever had a pet knows that they can quickly become part of the family. Having someone to greet you when you come home or to snuggle with you on the couch can be pure bliss for many dog or cat owners.
Responsible pet ownership can require a bit of time and money but most animal lovers feel both are worth it, especially empty nesters who find the house is a little too quiet.
Having a pet brings so many benefits into your life. Here is a look at five of them:
- Having a dog can actually make you physically healthier.
That’s right, a recent study from Harvard Medical School found that dog owners have lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels and less risk of heart disease than people without dogs. This is at least partially because most dogs need daily walks, which gets the owners moving too. In fact, another study showed that older adults who regularly walked dogs had a lower body mass index and fewer doctor’s visits.
If you are getting a pooch for the first time in retirement, consider looking for a slightly older dog who is already leash-trained, when possible, to make walks more fun for both of you. Many shelters have senior animals that would fit the bill.
- Having a dog can also help you have better mental health.
The Harvard study also found that dog owners are less likely to suffer from loneliness, anxiety, stress and depression than non-dog owners. Part of the reason for this is that dogs are great companions, which is comforting for anyone! But there’s another factor at work too: By getting owners out walking regularly, dogs help people to be more social. How often do you see people who are walking their dog stopping to chat with others who are doing the same? They have a natural conversation starter right at their feet – their dogs! Let your dog help you get better acquainted with your neighbors and others.
- Pets help you set your routines.
While retirement is a great time to slow down and take life a little easier, you still want to be engaged and have some structure in your day. You can’t oversleep too long when you have a cat meowing at you for breakfast or a dog eagerly waiting for a morning trip out to the backyard. Trips to the groomer or the dog park can also become fun regularly scheduled events in your life.
- Dogs can help you feel safer.
Who needs a security alarm when you have a dog that alerts you when anyone comes near the front door? Sure, sometimes it’s just the mailman, or even a squirrel, but you always know someone is looking out for you when Fido or Rex is on duty.
- Cats are a super easy option.
For people with mobility issues, taking a dog for a daily walk may not be feasible. The good news is that cats are a great option! They can deliver many of the health benefits that dogs do, but are happy staying indoors. They don’t demand a ton of hands-on attention and they are rarely loud. Let a kitty curl up on your lap and enjoy the warm purring and companionship.