woman's hand stroking a cat

While dogs are said to be a man’s best friend, are they are a senior’s best friend as well? Though many studies tout the benefits of pets for seniors, other recent articles are asking whether pets aren’t more of a risk than a relief. To help you decide whether a pet is right for you or your loved one, we’ve broken down some basic pros and cons for you to consider before you decide.

Pros

1. Companionship

As a growing number of older adults live by themselves, pets offer seniors a friend and companion. Empty-nesters may miss the comfort and routine of caring for someone, and owning a pet can satisfy that need while providing a new source of companionship and love. Pets are recommended to help reduce depression and loneliness among seniors.

2. Exercise

Many seniors fall out of the habit of regular exercise as they age. Having a pet can give you an excuse to get outside and take a walk on a daily basis. According to one study, dog owners walk almost twice as much as those who don’t own a dog. And getting out for a walk isn’t just great for exercise, it provides an opportunity to socialize with fellow pet owners and neighbors.

3. Less stress

Pet owners typically have less stress and lower blood pressure than their pet-free counterparts. Pets naturally make life a little more fun. They adapt to your schedule and are there when you need them, so whenever you need a friend or a chance to unwind with a game of fetch, they’re there.

Cons

1. Risk of falls

According to the MMWR, cats and dogs caused an average of 86,629 fall injuries between 2001 and 2006, which frequently led to a hospital visit. Especially with seniors who are seeing-impaired, a pet could put them at greater risk of a fall.

2. Cost

It goes without saying that pets are not cheap. Between food, grooming, and vet visits, your pet will requires an investment of more than just your time. The average dog or cat costs upward of $1,000 in the first year, which is something you’ll have to plan for. If you’re thinking about a pet, you’ll need to decide ahead of time if you afford it.

3. Maintenance

Pets are not just play things, they require a lot of work including constant grooming and cleaning. Poop and hair may vary by animal, but daily feeding and cleaning up for your pet is guaranteed, which not everyone is cut out for.

Pets can be our friends, our guardians, and our constant companions, but deciding to invest in one should not be taken lightly. Before you head to the pet shop, be sure you consider not only the benefits but also the responsibilities and risks of your new furry friend.