If you took a quick poll, you’d probably get divided answers on whether or not adopting a pet in retirement is the best idea. Some would suggest that the golden years are for slowing down, not worrying about caring for a young pet. Others, however, would say that there are emotional and physiological benefits to having a four-legged friend.
So who’s right?
A number of Scientific studies have measured the impact pets have on their owner’s health and well being – adding non-anecdotal evidence to the debate. Loyola University researchers actually found that patients recovering from joint-replacement surgery who participated in five to 15 minutes a day of animal therapy saw a 28 percent decrease in the need for oral pain medication. There are also studies showing that sitting and petting animals can help lower blood pressure. In addition, research has proven that pets give owners a reason to get out and active, and also give people a sense of companionship.
So what exactly is the down side?
Well, many people feel that as the golden years naturally slow down, having an energetic puppy to take care of could lead to the animal not getting the amount of exercise it needs, and the owner feeling overwhelmed by the stress of taking care of a pet. If the owner then has to give up the pet, this can lead to distress for both the pet and person.
Both arguments have some validity. So perhaps the focus should be less on whether or not to get a furry friend, and more on what kind of pet to get. Since there’s no doubt that a pet can provide health benefits, let’s look more at what kind of pets might be appropriate for the retirement years.
Cats – though some people are completely anti cat, they can actually provide companionship without the responsibility of a dog.They are independent, and can be left alone for longer periods of time. Aside from cleaning out a litter box, and refilling food and water, most cats just require some petting and attention.
Adult Dogs – If you’re early on in retirement, a younger dog may not be a bad option. But keep in mind, young dogs are a lot of work.They need to be trained and walked regularly. Another option would be to adopt an older dog from a shelter who is already house trained. While they still need to be walked and can’t be left alone for long periods of time, they will have slowed down a bit from their puppy days, and may be the perfect speed for those in retirement.
By choosing a pet carefully, you can hopefully enjoy all the positive aspects of a furry friend without adding any stress to your life.