Improving Health with a Furry Friend

Pets are healers. The blind love and affection that animals can bring to their owners is like therapy. They are friends, companions, and a three-ring circus-act all wrapped up in one. Needing to take responsibility for another life brings meaning to one’s own life, and keeps one active and useful.
Years ago my grandmother was grieving for the loss of my grandfather. She went through a year of unbearable loneliness and pain. My father finally got the idea to buy her a dog. That’s when Henry the white Bijon Frise came into the family. Grandma’s spirits immediately lifted with this new companion beside her during life’s difficult times.

Research shows that pets make seniors healthier. Contact with animals can lower blood pressure, increase survival rates in cardiac patients, lower stress levels, reduce bone loss, lower cholesterol, and improve circulation. All of this shows that any furry friend– dog, cat, rabbit, or even a chinchilla– makes for a longer, happier, healthier life.

Commitment to your new friend

Before adopting an animal, understand the commitment that’s necessary. Make sure you have enough time and money available to you.

Ask yourself what kind of a pet you want to adopt. Did you love having a little bird when you were growing up? Are you a dog person or cat person? For those more physically fit, a dog would be a fun choice. Dogs require more physical exercise and play-time. If you’re not as mobile, a cat provides a wonderful lap-buddy with less necessary care-time.

Do you have the energy to train a young pet? If you do not, an older pet is a better option. Older pets are calmer and are usually already house-trained.

How to adopt

There are plenty of programs out there that can help you adopt the right pet. The first place you might want to look is your local animal shelter. There are a number of advantages to this. You can more easily find an older pet, there’s a better selection to choose from, and it’s more economical this way. Adoption fees are very low compared to the price of an animal from a breeder or pet store, and usually include the price of spay or neuter procedures and vaccinations.

Some shelters also have the benefit of programs that waive adoption fees for senior citizens. Ask your local shelter about such programs, and also any needed support or advice for new pet owners. They’re always happy to help.

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March 02, 2011 in Senior Care