Research suggests that older people who own pets fall asleep more easily and feel more positive than those without a pet.

According to research from Kingston University and St George’s University of London, older pet owner’s felt more positive in their environment and fell asleep more easily than those who did not have a pet. The research also found that dog owners take considerably more mild and moderate exercise than those without a pet.

Health and wellbeing expert Gill Mein, who led the retirement element of the Whitehall study, looked into the links between health and retirement as part of this ongoing investigation.

Mein said: “We suspected that owning a pet may have some health benefits, so we decided to investigate this as part of our research. We found that as study participants were getting older, many of the questions in the biennial questionnaire to participants were becoming increasingly negative about illness, loneliness, depression.”

To include a more positive question, they chose to add a section about pets. As a result, Mein soon found that people became more involved with their pets as they retired.  While the study found all pet owners benefitted from an increase in moderate exercise, fell asleep more easily and felt more positive about their neighbourhood, owning a dog had significantly increased results in these areas.

Mein said: “The fact that older people with pets fell asleep more easily than those without could be linked to the increased mild and moderate exercise we saw in this group, and particularly among dog owners.

“The other element I found fascinating was that people with pets felt happier about their local environment. If you walk around your neighbourhood, you feel more comfortable about it – it isn’t necessarily as hostile as it could be if you mainly travel in a car or use public transport as you know it a bit better, it’s more familiar.”

Many of the carers at PetStay are retired and enjoy the benefits of a dog without the full-time responsibility. You can find out more about becoming a homeboarding dog carer by clicking here.

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