Q:

Do seniors gain health benefits from companion dogs?

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Quick Answer

Seniors gain many health benefits from companion dogs. The National Center for Health Research reports that some research studies find that pet owners are less depressed, have a healthier heart, miss work less often, get more exercise and visit the doctor less often.

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Studies also show that companion dogs may have an impact on asthma, allergies and social interactions. They are also useful in physical rehabilitation, occupational therapy and speech therapy to aid in recovery, states The National Center for Health Research. Besides designated therapeutic roles, companion animals provide numerous benefits just by being in someone's life.

Companion dogs help to regulate the owner's heart rate and lower blood pressure during stressful events, increasing overall heart health. Companion dogs are a source of social support for elderly people that enhances their well-being. A study cited by the National Center for Health Research found that elderly pet owners are more able to perform daily living tasks.

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