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Benefits of Pet Therapy for Seniors

If you’ve ever been welcomed home by a dog, you understand how quickly these furry creatures can turn a person’s day around. With their wagging tails, unbridled excitement, and boundless affection, dogs are natural mood boosters. Or, perhaps you prefer cats! Some cats are calm and gentle, preferring to quietly curl up in your lap with soft purrs, while others enjoy sprinting around and playing with little toys. Whether you’re joined by dogs, cats, or some other adorable animals, never underestimate the benefits of pet therapy for seniors. Below we’ll discuss some of the ways that animal-assisted therapy can be helpful for people in their sunset years.

Why Should You Try Animal-Assisted Therapy?

Keep in mind that the benefits of pet therapy will vary from person to person, and a variety of factors can influence a senior’s response to it. For example, you’ll need to consider personal preferences, allergies, mobility, and more. But with the right pet and a willing senior, pet therapy can be a wonderfully positive experience. The following are just a few of the many benefits of pet therapy for seniors:

Hanging out with a pet can be fun!

If you spend a little time with a dog or cat, you’re bound to crack a smile. And with all the funny things they do — squirming around on their backs, making silly noises, licking your cheek — don’t be surprised if you end up laughing throughout!

It provides a boost of physical and mental activity.

Whether you take a dog on a walk or play around with a cat, you’ll probably enjoy more exercise than you would have otherwise. Plus, in some cases, interacting with a pet can test your problem-solving skills. If you want to give both a dog and yourself a mental workout, try teaching him or her a new trick (with the assistance of their owner, of course!).

Communicating with an animal can be stimulating or even healing.

Talking to animals can be cathartic, especially for older adults on the quieter side. Plus, it may lead to some human-to-human interaction as well — asking about someone’s pet is an excellent conversation starter!

Spending time with pets can decrease your stress levels.

It’s a well-established fact that spending time with a dog or cat can reduce your stress and anxiety and decrease other negative emotions as well. There’s a reason why some people call petting their dog fur therapy! It can help you relax and unwind, and it’s even been found to lower blood pressure.

It’s a great way to combat loneliness.

Animals can provide companionship and unconditional love and affection, which can be powerful for someone suffering from loneliness. Especially if the person doesn’t often see close family or friends, a dog or cat can be a wonderful source of emotional support.


Now that you’ve explored some of the many benefits of pet therapy for seniors, are you ready to give it a go? If you’re a resident of an assisted living community like The Gables on Pelham, you probably won’t have to wait long. Our community calendar is teeming with fun activities and events.

Are you planning to retire in Greenville, South Carolina? Be sure to check out The Gables on Pelham, a continuing-care retirement community that welcomes seniors from all walks of life. We offer flexible and personalized care, including assisted living, memory care, skilled nursing, and rehabilitation. You’ll love our cozy accommodations, fun-filled events calendar, and welcoming community atmosphere. To learn more, please schedule a tour or call us at 864-713-1377.