Our Pets are Good For Our Health
We all want to feel loved and needed. The pitter-patter of furry feet is an insistent reminder of another living being’s unconditional love for us. There is a steady rhythm to life with a pet-Wake Up! Feed Me!, Time to Play! Let’s go for a walk! This rhythm and routine is helpful for maintaining a sense of time and purpose. The routine of caring for a pet can even be helpful for those with dementia.
Our furkids are members of the family. We take care of each other as we age. Our pets can change our focus away from aches and pains. Dogs and cats live in the present and encourage us to do the same. Happy to play and be silly with us our pets never worry about tomorrow!
Pets can be the reason we get out of bed in the morning. They provide companionship and help to relieve a sense of loneliness and isolation. Conversations are started with fellow pet owners or those eager to reminisce about pets they once had. Our furkids are excellent at communicating with us. Dogs have a way of sensing when we are sad or fearful and providing us with comfort. They make great listeners -particularly when we say words like “cookie” or “treat”!
According to the CDC people over the age of 65 need 150 minutes of moderate physical activity each week such as a brisk walk. Several research studies have shown that dog owners walk an average 23 minutes more per day than non-dog owners do. That is roughly the equivalent of a 10-minute morning, afternoon, and evening walk. Walking your dog has been shown to reduce stress, lower blood pressure and improve memory. A daily walk also helps strengthen the muscles used for balance and coordination-important for fall prevention. Walk your dog everyday-even if you don’t have one.
On these hot dog days of summer try to plan longer walks in the morning or evening when it is cooler outside. Bring water for yourself and the dog-even if it is just to go outside for “business.” It is important to make sure you and the dog both stay hydrated.
There are precautions that should be taken for our own safety when we have furkids at home. Slips can happen if a pet has an accident in the house. Make sure dogs get outside to do their business on a regular basis. Keep the litter box clean. Trips can be caused by pets eager to be too close to us when we walk. Teach your dog not to jump. Put a bell on your cat’s collar so you know when they are near. A fall can happen when a pet’s toy gets under foot. Buy bright colored toys that are easy to see even in lower lighting and try to pick up toys when playtime is done.
If you are considering a move into assisted living or a nursing home ask if they will allow your furkid to move in with you. Several long-term care facilities have begun to accept pets under a certain weight and all require up to date vaccinations.
Check here for if you need help caring for your pets