Pet Keen is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Learn more.

Home > General > 5 Health Benefits of Pets for the Elderly and Seniors – What To Know

5 Health Benefits of Pets for the Elderly and Seniors – What To Know

a senior man stroking his horse outdoors

Vet approved

Dr. Lauren Demos Photo

Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Lauren Demos

Veterinarian, DVM

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

Learn more »

If you have an empty nest at home, you might long for companionship. It’s a natural part of life that as we age, our children leave home, and we start to lose friends and family or do not get to see them as often. This can create a sense of emptiness in the home.

So if you’ve noticed that your house is extra quiet these days, you may want to bring some extra life back into your four walls. Here are some great health benefits to having a pet and some tips on choosing the right one for you.


The 5 Health Benefits of Pets for the Elderly and Seniors

1. Lowers Blood Pressure and Cholesterol

If you’re getting older, your doctor has already recommended ways to lower your blood pressure. But would you believe that having a pet can contribute to this target health area? It’s true.

Science proves that many people who have pets experience slightly lower blood pressure as a result. Since pets naturally decrease stress and anxiety, giving you something to love and share companionship with, these stress reductions have their overall benefits.

Also, it’s shown that pets may help lower cholesterol, too. All the more reason to add them into your life—it’s good for your health.

2. Provides Companionship

senior holding dog
Image Credit: Magdalena Smolnicka, Unsplash

As you enter your golden years, you might notice being lonelier than you have been. There’s no pitter-patter of little feet in your house or the hustling and bustling of a workplace lifestyle. Whether you are retired or living a laid-back life, it might help to have a companion.

Dogs and cats make excellent companions, providing friendship, bonding, and connection with those they encounter. Many dogs and cats bond extremely well with one person, meaning you can easily become the center of their universe.

You might find solace in sharing your home with a furry pal between visits from grandchildren and friends.

3. Creates Routine

It would help if you kept a routine when you have a cat or dog. They might wake you up for breakfast or need to go potty outside. So, it keeps you on a schedule you can’t break. After all, they depend on you for overall care.

Sometimes, you can get lost in the day when you are retired. It’s nice to have something to give you some added structure that you might need to include. So, if you need a buddy around to keep you on task, a pet will be happy to oblige.

4. Promotes Exercise

senior woman grooming the horse
Image Credit: Barbara Olsen, Pexels

No matter what kind of animal you have, they’re going to need exercise. In order for them to get exercise, it likely means you’re going to have to join them. If you have a dog, they will need to be let out for daily walks, various adventures, and backyard games.

Playtime interaction is a great way to exercise alongside your pets. If you have a cat, you might have to get the heart rate pumped up by allowing them to chase strings, yarn, and feathers through the house. If you have that motivation, it can make it seem less of a task and more enjoyable.

Even light exercise can get our blood pumping and keep our hearts healthy. So, if you have been looking for ways to motivate yourself to move—get an energetic mate to keep you company.

5. Excellent for Certain Health Issues

Pets are typically highly trainable, especially dogs and cats. Dogs, in particular, can undergo specialized specific training to fulfill certain duties. For example, if you have diabetes, you can purchase a service dog that is explicitly trained to detect when your blood sugar is low and alert you accordingly.

Granted, for specialized service animals, you will have to pay much more upfront. These animals can cost $5,000 or more. However, if your health issues require it, it is definitely worth the money since they undergo extensive preparation for your particular case.

Emotional support animals are just as special. Many emotional support animals do not undergo such extensive specialized training, as their companionship is the primary skill set they bring. So if you have any issues relating to mental health, emotional support animals can assist you every day.


How to Choose a Pet

If you are still determining what kind of pet you want exactly, here are some things to consider.


Senior with pug beside
Image Credit: Yuttana Jaowattana Shutterstock

Age can matter when you choose a pet. Some may want a baby or young animal that they can grow with. Others might want a mannerly pet that has already established a personality. This will be up to you and what you can take on.


Dogs and cats will be among the first domestic pets you think of—but that’s not all. Some people find strong companionship in birds, hamsters, rats, gerbils, guinea pigs, rabbits—you name it. Selecting what type of pet you want can prepare you for care, help you budget, and narrow your options.


A pet’s personality needs to mesh well with yours. It’s a significant part of the bonding process. Things like activity level, demeanor, and quirks matter. Sometimes, you grow with your pets, and other times, the bond is instantaneous.

Rescues, Shelters, Shops, or Breeders

You have to choose how you want to purchase your pet, which can depend greatly on the species you pick. If you buy a dog, cat, or smaller mammal, you can choose from shelters, pet shops, and private breeders.



So, have we convinced you that you need a pet yet? They are a wonderful addition to any home to improve your golden years. Some prefer adult pets with previous training—but others want a baby they can grow with. That’s all up to you!

Remember, cats and dogs are flooded in shelters and could use a second chance. So, check out local rescues and shelters in your area to find your new companion.

Featured Image Credit: Ground Picture, Shutterstock

Our vets

Want to talk to a vet online?

Whether you have concerns about your dog, cat, or other pet, trained vets have the answers!

Our vets