Do dogs have the power to heal seniors? From my personal experience, I’ve seen how seniors interact with Sami. When I have my parents over, I find them paying more attention to Sami than me. When we talk on the phone, they first ask me how Sami is doing, before asking me how I am. There’s some type of automatic bond between seniors and dogs.
4 Benefits of Owning a Westie for Seniors and Retirees
The National Poll on Healthy Aging discovered that adults aged 50 to 80 owned a pet. The results:
- 88% said their pets made life more enjoyable
- 86% said their pets made them feel special
- 79% said their pets reduced their stress
Other research on the connection between seniors and dogs uncovered:
- Over 40% of seniors feel lonely regularly, resulting in poor sleep, increased stress, and increased inflammation
- 72% of seniors said that their pets helped them manage their emotional and physical symptoms better
With the statistics out of the way, here are a few benefits of why seniors and retirees should get a dog – in particular a Westie:
1. Dogs Help Ease Pain
Most seniors live alone and are not doing well in the health department. As they get older, they may experience a host of medical conditions that they have to live with forever, such as chronic pain. Since both dogs and humans release the feel-good hormone oxytocin in the brain, cuddling and staring into the eyes of a puppy, just for 5 minutes, triggers it.
2. Dogs Help Seniors Maintain a Routine
Dogs can help seniors stick to a routine. Feeding, playing, grooming, and walking him, among other things will become a part of your daily routine. Admittedly, I’m in my early 30s, but when I got Sami, I saw a change in my routine. I had to adjust my routine according to him, and once I did, I stuck by it.
He helps me stay on track, and a pet can do the same thing for seniors. When you’re retired, especially, you’re home all day without a purpose. A Westie can give you that purpose. Your life revolved around work before, but it can revolve around your pet now.
3. Dogs Can Make Seniors More Sociable
Without a dog, you’re trapped in your home. With a dog, you almost need to go to the park and meet people. I have met so many new people in the last year, since I’ve had Sami. Sometimes, people know Sami’s name before they know mine!
You can also start blogging or taking pics of your Westie to put on social media, as we do on Instagram. When you have something to do, you’ll not feel lonely.
4. Dogs Keep Seniors Active
If you’re 65 or older, you need at least 2 hours of moderate aerobic exercise each week for 30 minutes each day. With a dog, you’re taking him walking every day. Oh, want to know a secret to how I keep in shape? Sami!
There’s gym, but Sami is a 24/7-hour job, so he’s always keeping me on my toes.
Seniors who need exercise but aren’t getting the required amount can get a Westie. I would recommend they get an adult Westie over a puppy because puppies are a lot more work in the first year, just ask me!
Why Westies, in particular, make greats pets for seniors and retirees? I have all the reasons, right here!
5 Reasons Westies Are Good Companion Dogs for the Elderly
Here are a few reasons why I think seniors and retirees should get a Westie over other dog breeds:
1. Westies Are Lightweight
Sami is really easy to carry, which is why I am hold him a lot in our pictures. Walking him is a breeze. With a large dog, seniors will find themselves making an extra effort in walking him. Truthfully, I wanted my first dog to be a big dog, initially. Now, that I know better, I think having a bigger dog would have been a lot more difficult for me.
2. Westies Are a Very Friendly Dog
Sami is a very friendly dog. Whether it is with children or seniors, you’ll always see him having a blast with them. Westies are playful, smart, confident, and easy to handle. If you’re a senior planning to get one, you’ll need to spoil them with toys and food because they love those two things.
3. Westies Are a Social Dog
If your kids or grandkids are coming over, your Westie will be more excited about visitors. They are a friendly dog breed that love to socialize. And yes, they do bark, but you can train them not to. More importantly, though, they don’t usually bite. If you’re taking them out to socialize with other dogs, they’ll get along with them just fine.
4. Westies Are Very Energetic
Okay, so this may seem like a red flag to seniors, as taking care of a highly energetic dog isn’t easy. I completely understand, but here’s the silver lining. Back in the day, Westies were used for hunting purposes, and this trait has been passed down from generation to generation. They can still protect seniors by sniffing out unsafe situations because they are energetic and alert. They are really good watch dogs.
5. Westies Are Easy to Maintain
Sami rarely sheds, so I am not picking up his fur after him. He is a low maintenance dog and requires minimal grooming, hence making him perfect for seniors. At your age, a high maintenance dog isn’t a good idea. And a Westie requires moderate exercise. I usually take Sami out for walks two times each day.
His food needs are also low, and I give him 1/2 to 3/2 cups of premium quality dry food each day. However, I would ask you to visit your vet to seek his advice on the amount of exercise and food you should give your Westie.
If you’re a senior or have recently retired, stop feeling lonely and get a Westie. Just as Sami changed my life for the better, your Westie will do the same for you.