|My dog, Charlie|
As for adults, dogs can also reduce the risk of illness, with owners making 15% fewer doctor's appointments and taking less time off work (which means less catching up to do later!) Physical activity increases, and social bonds with other dog-owning friends strengthen as we are reminded to not be constantly working. The average dog owner walks approximately 5 hours a week, which is the Australian physical activity guideline for adults, and for empty-nesters, a fur kid can fulfil the need to be needed. "Elderly" dog owners have also been found to have healthier blood pressure and cholesterol (most likely from more walking); less stress, better nutrition and increased parasympathetic nervous system function - the side of the autonomic nervous system which stimulates digestion. There was even a small study of elderly patients hospitalised for heart issues which found that pet owners were more likely to survive! Owning a dog or other pet comes with a wide range of health benefits, but if you cannot afford or keep one yourself, perhaps volunteering or taking on an on-the-side job with dogs will bring the same benefits.