As people age, maintaining a high quality of life becomes increasingly important. One way to enhance the well-being of elderly individuals is by introducing a furry friend into their lives. The benefits of elderly people having a pet are manifold, as it not only provides companionship but also ensures they remain physically active and mentally stimulated.

New PetSure research, which surveyed over 1,000 pet parents, asked which public places trained pets should be allowed for the purpose of providing an emotional benefit to people, with respondents citing retirement villages the most (77%), followed by mental health clinics (67%) and hospitals (55%).


In this article, we will explore these advantages and also discuss warning signs to look out for when a person may become too old to care for their pet and how we can support them.

Companionship and emotional support

Elderly individuals often face feelings of loneliness and isolation, particularly if they live alone or have lost a spouse or friends. Dogs can be incredibly comforting companions, offering unconditional love and a listening ear. The presence of a loyal, non-judgmental friend can reduce feelings of depression and anxiety in seniors. The simple act of petting a dog can release oxytocin, a hormone that promotes feelings of bonding and well-being.

Physical activity and exercise

Owning a dog encourages regular physical activity for seniors, which is crucial for maintaining good health. Daily walks and playtime keep both the dog and the owner active. These activities improve cardiovascular health, muscle strength, and joint flexibility, while also helping to manage weight and reduce the risk of chronic diseases. Additionally, the responsibility of caring for a dog motivates elderly individuals to maintain a daily routine.

Mental stimulation and cognitive health

Interacting with a dog can provide mental stimulation and prevent cognitive decline in older adults. Playing games, training, and simply being responsible for the well-being of their pet keeps their minds engaged. Dogs can help seniors stay alert and maintain cognitive function. The emotional connection and sense of purpose that comes from looking after a dog can also have a positive impact on mental health.

Warning signs and support for elderly pet owners

While having a pet offers numerous advantages to elderly people, it’s essential to be aware of the warning signs that indicate a senior may no longer be able to care for their pet:

  • Physical Limitations: If the senior’s mobility or strength has significantly declined, they may struggle to walk, feed, or groom their dog properly.
  • Cognitive Decline: Conditions such as dementia can make it challenging for an elderly individual to remember their pet’s needs or take proper care of them.
  • Financial Strain: Elderly individuals on fixed incomes may find it increasingly difficult to afford pet food, veterinary care, and other necessary expenses.
  • Neglect or Forgetfulness: Frequent lapses in pet care, such as forgetting to feed the dog, provide fresh water, or administer medications, are cause for concern.
  • Social Isolation: If a senior becomes increasingly isolated, they may not have the support or companionship required to care for their dog.

Supporting elderly pet owners

  • Regular Check-Ins: Family members, friends, and neighbours should maintain regular contact with elderly pet owners to assess their well-being and the condition of their pets.
  • Assistance with Pet Care: Offer help with tasks like grooming, feeding, or walking the dog to ease the senior’s responsibilities.
  • Professional Services: If necessary, consider hiring professional dog walkers, pet sitters, or in-home care services to ensure the pet’s needs are met.
  • Rehoming or Fostering: In some cases, it may be in the best interest of both the senior and the dog to find a new, loving home.

The benefits of elderly people having a dog are undeniable, from companionship and emotional support to increased physical activity and mental stimulation. However, it’s crucial to remain vigilant for signs that an elderly pet owner may struggle to care for their furry friend as they age. By offering support, understanding their unique needs, and exploring alternatives, when necessary, we can help ensure that both seniors and their dogs enjoy happy and healthy lives. The bond between elderly individuals and their canine companions is a testament to the power of love, care, and mutual well-being.