Dogs For Seniors- How an Emotional Support Dog Can Help

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Dogs For Seniors

An emotional support dog presents many health benefits to their owners. Contact with a dog can alleviate depression, loneliness, and isolation. For people who’ve lost their spouse, or whose grown children have moved away, a dog can be a great source of friendship and companionship. For these reasons, more and more often dogs are being utilized for support purposes for seniors. Emotional support dogs are used to promote health and healing in seniors of any age range or health condition. Whether seniors are depressed, chronically ill or have ongoing disabilities, service or support dogs for seniors may be right for them.

Dogs For Seniors – Mental Health

Studies show that just fifteen minutes spent bonding with an animal promotes hormonal changes within the brain. In fact, stress levels drop as the brain produces serotonin (the “feel-good” hormone), along with prolactin and oxytocin. This is why support dogs are good companions for seniors, because they offer so many amazing health benefits. There is a specific designation of dogs that may help to provide the care and compassion that seniors crave and need, an emotional support animal.

Seniors suffer from depression usually as a result of loneliness or isolation, either because friends and family members cannot visit on a regular basis, or they aren’t as active as they previously were.   Perhaps a loving spouse has passed away. Contact with supportive animals can bring some withdrawn seniors out of their shells, making them happier and more communicative. Studies show that seniors who are active and always around others, or who own a pet, decline in health far less rapidly than isolated or depressed seniors.

Dogs For Seniors- Physical Health

Seniors with heart conditions who own pets tend to outlive those who don’t. The American Heart Association released a study showing that owning or interacting with dogs can help prevent heart disease. Walking a dog provides much-needed physical exercise, which leads to improved mobility and a healthier lifestyle overall. Petting a dog can help work out arthritic hands and arms. Dogs provide emotional stability during stressful situations, helping to reduce anxiety and depression. Being with a dog can help reduce cortisol, a stress hormone, and help boost levels of the serotonin. Dogs seem to have an amazing instinct for when sad or frightened people need to be comforted. For seniors facing fears of the future or surgery, a pup can help someone stay in the moment.

Dogs are also a source of mental stimulation. Whether reading about breeds and pet care, or talking to others about dogs, elderly minds can benefit. Dogs can help relieve the stresses of people with dementia or Alzheimer’s. Dementia patients experience bouts of agitation, and dogs can help calm them down. Interacting with a dog can stimulate the appetite of people who might otherwise not eat regularly as a result of these conditions. Having a dog in a senior’s life can help improve their well-being and give new meaning to their life. Due to the numerous health benefits support dogs provide, many assisted living facilities are starting to include pet therapy in their regular senior care. Being around a dog makes people feel better, healthier, and happier.

service dog for seniors

Service Dogs For Seniors- Final Thoughts

As we mentioned earlier, emotional support dogs are used to promote health and healing in seniors of any age range or health condition, whether they are depressed, chronically ill or have ongoing disabilities.If you have any more questions on the process of finding or making your dog a emotional support animal, please visit our Frequently Asked Questions. If you need help picking out the right dog breed for you, please visit our link on top dog breeds for companion animals.  The first step in getting a companion dog for seniors is taking our short simple 5 minute survey to see if you’re a good candidate for an emotional support dog.

See If You Qualify for an Emotional Support Animal


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