Study Shows Pet Dogs Provide Health Benefits For Seniors, Which Dog Breeds Are Best For The Elderly?

June may be Adopt a Rescue Cat Month, but a new study suggests when it comes to seniors and pets, a dog is often a better choice. The study conducted by The University of Lincoln and Glasgow Caledonian University Study and published in BMC Public Health on June 9, 2017, showed that seniors who owned dogs were more likely to live healthier lifestyles than non-dog owners. It was shown that dog owners spent more time walking per day, enjoyed more time outdoors, and had more mobility in their lives. Professor Daniel Mills, one of the study’s leaders, released a statement describing the findings.

“We all know that as we get older we tend to slow down a little. By staying active we can improve our health and other aspects of our quality of life. Factors driving higher levels of physical activity in adults are not well defined. We were interested in assessing whether dog ownership has the potential to improve the health of older adults though increased activity.”

There are things to take into consideration when bringing a dog into the home, and seniors should select the breed of dog carefully. As studies continually show that dog ownership helps ensure seniors live healthier, happier, and active lives, it’s important to choose a dog breed that compliments your lifestyle. According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), seniors should take their time to research different breeds and ensure that the dog they adopt is one they will be able to properly care for. Areas of consideration include how much activity the dog requires; whether an indoor dog is best or a dog that can accompany you on outdoor adventures; how much living space you have and what the dog requires; whether you want to train a puppy or select an adult dog in need of a home, and the long-term, financial cost of your pet.

NECN published a list of the 11 best dog breeds for seniors. The following dog breeds are included on the list along with other popular dog breeds recommended for seniors.

  • Cocker Spaniel
  • Chihuahua
  • Golden Retriever
  • Pug
  • Welsh Terrier
  • Poodle
  • Shih Tzu
  • Cardigan Welsh Corgi
  • Beagle
  • Pomeranian
  • King Charles Spaniel
  • Dachshund
  • Bichon Frise
  • French Bulldog
  • Maltese

The study showed that pets help aging owners live healthier lives. In particular, dogs helped encourage seniors to spend more time walking, and this provides much-needed exercise that helps keep seniors healthy and happy. The lead researcher for the study, Dr. Philippa Dal, stated the following regarding dog owners and the increase in walking per week dog owners experienced.

“Dog owners were found to walk over 20 minutes more a day and this additional walking was at a moderate pace. For good health WHO recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity a week. Over the course of a week, this additional 20 minutes walking each day may in itself be sufficient to meet these guidelines. Our findings represent a meaningful improvement in physical activity achieved through dog walking.”

The increase in mobility and getting regular exercise may help seniors remain active in other areas. In addition to dog walking, seniors are more likely to engage in conversations with people in their communities due to dog ownership. Getting seniors outside helps increase their activity levels and inspires them to remain active in other areas. This not only increases mobility but helps vulnerable seniors remain active in their communities.

Dogs are loyal, protective, and provide companionship. The benefits of dog ownership for seniors aren’t just physical, but they are emotional as well. Dogs can help seniors combat issues of loneliness, isolation, and even bereavement. They are an enhancement to many senior’s lives, and those considering bringing a dog home shouldn’t dismiss the idea but instead, do proper research to ensure they select the best dog breed for their needs.

Watch: The Importance of Pets in Aging Communities for Healthy Aging

[Featured Image by Christian Mueller/Shutterstock]