Pet Ownership Can Benifit Children and Seniors

trick-672629_1920
Basic Obedience Training for Your New Dog
November 22, 2016
dog-889350_1280
Growing Up or Growing Old with Your Pet
November 22, 2016
Show all

Pet Ownership Can Benifit Children and Seniors

dog-168815_1920

The many touted benefits of pet ownership are all true. It’s no longer considered news that pets reduce stress, help blood pressure, and reduce incidents of depression. Today I want to focus on two age groups: the youngest and the oldest. I address this issue in other articles, but it is a complex subject because of the many considerations that can come into play in that situation. Pet ownership is not a blanket solution to every problem, but for those who want a pet, they have many benefits.

 

Pets have a special place in the lives of children. Think back on your memories of your childhood pet, if you had one. Need I say more? These are strong, indelible connections. Even children who are not old enough for verbal communication can form bonds with animals. A good dog is priceless in the life of a child. They can learn responsibility, empathy, and self-esteem. Studies show that children with pets report higher levels of happiness and confidence.

 

Children with conditions ranging from anger and behavioral problems to communicative barriers like autism have all benefitted from interactions with animals.  Dr. Rise Van Fleet is a psychologist who uses dogs in her therapy work with children, called “pet play therapy”. Dr. Van Fleet reports that interactions with animals help children learn new concepts and recognize mistakes in their own behavior. They aid in communication and in building self-esteem. Dogs are used in a wide variety of therapy work.

 

In elderly people, pets show the same and other benefits. A good dog can go a long way toward easing loneliness. Aside from that, some studies seem to support findings that elderly people with pets demonstrate faster healing times after myocardial problems, lowered blood pressure, and other physical health benefits. Those studies are not without controversy, because others show no difference in health outcomes whether animals are associated or not. Much stronger evidence, however supports the hypothesis that animal contact can lower depression rates. Older age groups have high incidents of depression, so pets could be a very valuable part of therapy.

 

Many, if not all, of these studies are correlational studies http://www.playtherapy.com/playfulpooch/pets_study.html. I want to point out that correlation does not establish causation. In other words, there is little solid evidence that getting a pet will help recovery after a heart attack. There may be a third factor at work. But for “pet people”, having a pet really does add to the quality of life.

1 Comment

  1. I strongly agree that owning a pet can ease loneliness. As a matter of fact, around 36% of care patients over 60 are less likely to report loneliness compared to those who don’t own pets. Aside from the benefits presented here, owning a pet can also encourage an active and engaged lifestyle, protection, can help seniors rediscover a sense of purpose and they also provide companionship.
    I actually written something about the benefits of pets to seniors just recently. You can find here more details on how pets can benefit our aging loved ones: http://www.altcp.org/elderly-pets-caring-two-way-street/. In addition to this, I also highlighted the importance of taking care of these pets and instil in everyone’s minds that they deserve respect and dignity.