Rx for Better Health? Studies Prove it's "Own a Pet."

April 4, 2017

Fido and Fluffy Have Healing Powers for Seniors and Others. Here's the Proven Research from BrightStar Care North Suburban

Here is one of a thousand inspiring stories about how much pets give to people... "When I come home after a long and tiring day, she is there to greet me and show her love. When I am sick or in pain, she lies next to me and gives me comfort. When people criticize me or make me angry, she pours out a wealth and abundance of genuine love. 'Give me a home,' she seems to say, 'and I'll be there for you to the end.'...If I had made her myself, I couldn't have created a better companion. Our dear dog, Dolly has given me more love, compassion and understanding than I will ever be able to give back, but she doesn't care about getting back what she gives. She just wants to be cared for and loved." Pets give us so much and ask so little. And here is an additional good news regarding pets: owning a dog or a cat can have substantial health benefits for seniors and just about everyone! That's not fantasy; it's furreal. Since our speciality at BrightStar Care North Suburban is in-home care for seniors, we're always interested in innovative and proven methodologies. We're even more appreciative of simple, affordable, solutions for everyone and  healthy, helpful solutions don't get easier (or better) than pet ownership. The medical efficacy of pet ownership for seniors presents an exciting option for proactive and preventative care -- not to mention-- and we certainly will, the chance to adopt-a-pet and rescue a dog or cat that needs a loving home. Research studies have found that people who live with animals have lower blood pressure, healthier hearts, visit the doctor less often, exercise more, stay home sick less frequently and are less depressed. But wait, that's just the beginning of the tail, er tale...
Pets lower blood pressure and pulse rate -- One research study found that simply having your dog in the room lowered blood pressure better than taking a popular type of blood pressure medication (ACE inhibitor) when you are under stress. Other research has indicated that the simple act of stroking a pet can help lower blood pressure and cholesterol.
Seniors who have pets become more active -- at least where walking the dog is concerned. Walking the cat is not on the research radar (and perhaps has never been seen). Pets are forgiving, don't stay angry at you and offer unconditional love -- (even spouses and children don't always do that.)
An animal can ease loss of a loved one and help you fight loneliness and reduce depression.
Seniors who take care of animals take better care of themselves. With their self-bathing, cats and dogs may provoke the idea of a bath or shower and not just on Saturday night. In another study, "Elderly individuals that had a dog or cat were better able to perform certain physical activities deemed “activities of daily living,” such as the ability to climb stairs; bend, kneel, or stoop; take medication; prepare meals; and bathe and dress oneself. Do these health benefits accrue whether you own a dog or cat? According to the Journal of American Geriatrics, "neither the length of time of having a dog or cat nor the level of attachment to the animal influenced performance abilities of seniors. Companion animals did not seem to have an impact on psychological health, but researchers suggested that a caretaking role may give older individuals a sense of responsibility and purpose that contributes to their overall well-being."
What About Pigs, Parrots and Iguanas? The health value of other animals apparently needs to be, um, a pet project deemed worthy by more researchers. As you can imagine, most studies focus on cats and dogs than other animals.
Can you Adopt the Idea of Adopting? At BrightStar North Suburban, we want to promote the idea of owning a pet and adopting or rescuing a dog or a cat seems like a wonderful idea, indeed Since we don't have much space on this blog, we've listed a lot of organizations, shelters and pet facilities (would you believe Pet Smart is one? on our BrightStar Care website and we invite you to go there now. If you, ahem, don't dog the issue it's apparent you'll be feline fine in no time.
  • Dana Casciotti, PhD, Diana Zukerman, PhD. "The benefits of health for human health." Accessed 2017.
  • Pets for the Elderly Foundation:
  • Depression among elderly people --
  • Owning a pet may have many health benefits.
  • Raina P, Waltner-Toews D, Bonnett B, Woodward C, Abernathy T (1999). Influence of companion animals on the physical and psychological health of older people: an analysis of a one-year longitudinal study. J Am Geriatr Soc. Mar;47(3):323-9
  • Allen K, Shykoff BE, Izzo JL Jr. (2001). Pet ownership, but not ace inhibitor therapy, blunts home blood pressure responses to mental stress. Hypertension. Oct;38(4):815-20.