Are dogs the key to a slim, social, older age?

Meet Hattie, my mum’s eighteen month old Boston. She’s cheeky, smiley, a bit of a diva….and my mum got her when she was 79. But it’s not just us who believe that her Boston is brilliant for her, the scientific studies stack up too.

There’s no denying it, that stroking, admiring and being lost in affection really is good for your health. And your dog or cat might not know the wonderful power they have to positively impact your health, especially if you’re older in years.

For decades, studies have shown that owning a pet can help with those with illnesses such as HIV, long term mental illness, congestive heart failure, diabetes, end stage cancer, acute illness, chronic pain, depression, loneliness, posttraumatic stress disorder, cognitive decline and physical disability.

And now new research reported in Current Gerontology and Geriatrics Research (June 2017) looked at over 12,000 people and the effect that their pet had on their health. Results showed older adult pet owners have overall better health with regard to weight, health conditions, and fewer medications. However, if it’s the health benefits you’re looking for when choosing a pet, as part of a lifestyle, there are key differences depending on whether you have a cat or a dog.

Get a cat, you might get fat. Get a dog, you might just jog! The dependent nature of dog-owning, compared to the through-the flap out the back nature of cats, means that you’re more likely to get up and out to walk your canine friend, so it’s not so much you taking the dog for a walk, as it taking you.

But this is surely a great price to pay. Compared to non-pet owners, your faithful four legged canine friend is doing you some real health-promoting favours.

Just another reason to love them.

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