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Is it a good idea for my older parents to get a dog?

After visiting many older people's homes thorughout Kent, we started wondering why don't more people have pets and whether it is a good idea or not. Perhaps you've wondered the same. So we decided to do a bit of research and dive into the subject!

The idea of having a dog as a companion in one's sunset years is undoubtedly appealing, but it comes with both pros and cons that deserve careful consideration. In this article, we'll delve into the world of older people and their potential canine companions, exploring the benefits and challenges, as well as highlighting suitable dog breeds.

Pros: Unconditional Companionship and Joy

One of the most significant advantages of having a dog for older parents is the companionship they bring. Dogs are incredibly affectionate and offer unwavering companionship, which can combat feelings of loneliness or isolation that may arise as children grow up and move out. From our therapy dog visits, we know for a fact that the joyful presence of a wagging tail and a warm, furry body can significantly uplift spirits.

Cons: Physical Demands and Responsibility

However, it's important to acknowledge that owning a dog comes with responsibilities, especially for older people who might have reduced physical capabilities. Daily walks, feeding, grooming, and veterinary care are essential components of dog ownership that need consistent attention. This might be challenging for older individuals with limited mobility or health concerns. That's when having a good support network of family and friends will come in handy!

Choosing the Right Dog Breed

When considering a dog for older parents, it's crucial to select a breed that matches their lifestyle and needs. Some dog breeds are better suited for older people due to their temperament, size, and exercise requirements.

  1. Small and Gentle Breeds: Breeds like the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Shih Tzu, and Bichon Frise are excellent choices for older people. They are small in size, making them easy to manage, and are known for their affectionate and gentle nature.

  2. Low-Energy Companions: older people might not be as active as they once were, so choosing a dog with low energy levels is wise. Bulldogs, Pugs, and Chihuahuas are examples of breeds that require less exercise.

  3. Therapy and Assistance Dogs: Some dog breeds are naturally attuned to providing emotional support and assistance. Golden Retrievers and Labrador Retrievers are known for their therapy and service dog capabilities, making them great companions for seniors who might benefit from extra assistance.

The Emotional Health Boost

Beyond the practical aspects, the emotional benefits of having a dog are immense. Dogs are known to reduce stress, lower blood pressure, and boost overall emotional well-being. For older people who might be dealing with health challenges or feelings of emptiness, a dog can provide a renewed sense of purpose and meaning.

Conclusion: A Tail-Wagging Decision

Deciding whether older parents should get a dog is a complex choice that involves evaluating both practical and emotional aspects. While the responsibilities of dog ownership can be demanding, the companionship and joy they bring can make it all worthwhile. You can also get the support of a dog trainer to educate the dog and prospective owner (we know a good one!). By selecting a dog breed that matches their lifestyle and capabilities, older people can embark on a beautiful journey of companionship and shared happiness.

If you'd like to "try before you buy", why not schedule a dog therapy visit with us, where we can bring Snoop over to meet your loved one, and see how they like it?

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