Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole. ~ R. Caras

Do you know that October is Adopt a Shelter Dog month? The benefits of pet ownership ought not be ignored by the likes of a wellness and retirement coach. When you put wellness and retirement together with pets you get a winning combo for successful aging.

Super quick numbers for you: 80 million households own pets in this country and 37% of those households are Baby Boomer homes. That’s a great deal of fur. Have you already adopted a pet? Great! Waiting because you think you’re too old or not capable? Let’s take a look at that.

Many of my clients struggle with the fear of isolation as they get older. This is normal but not necessary. Pets provide great company, they are wonderful listeners and want nothing more than to be there for you ~ even cats in their own, independent way. I know, we’re talking dogs here but if a dog feels like too much work a cat or even a rabbit may be a good match for you!

Loyola University found that 5-15 minutes a day of pet therapy reduced the need for pain medication by 28% following joint replacement surgery. Impressive fur sure! The American Heart Association found that pets can help lower blood pressure. Anyone with a dog will tell you they are great for getting outside and walking.

Dogs in particular are great for helping with social connections. A social date to meet someone for a walk with your dog or hanging out at the park is helpful in breaking the social isolation that sometimes creeps into daily life when you’re not heading into the office.

Cats are a bit easier to manage on a daily basis as they don’t generally like to go for walks on a leash but they too require some attention. Long hair cats require regular brushing. The importance of maintaining a clean kitty litter box cannot be understated (and no, don’t get me started on allowing cats outside! For you, for them, cats need to be indoor only and no, they aren’t missing out on anything other than horrible stuff.)

If you are thinking about adoption you may wish to look toward slightly older pets; less training, perhaps a bit less energy and for sure less of a handful. Worried about whether or not you can control a dog? There are great smaller dogs needing your home and would love to come home from the shelter to all the love and snuggles you’ll provide.

There are downsides and I’m not going to sugar coat them; you will need to be prepared to take your pet to the vet at least once a year for shots and a check up, a pet sitter or boarding arrangements are needed if you plan to go away or are kept away from home for some reason. It is helpful to have a back up plan in place to care for your pet in case something happens to you; a letter at your vet’s office can tell your family where they should go and often shelters will accept a returned pet if there are circumstances which dictate such a move.

Don’t want to take the full jump? Did you know you can foster pets while they await their forever family to adopt them? You may wish to pitch in with a friend’s pet to start.

Can you tell I love pets? I do and hope you’ll find a place for them if its right for you!

Wishing you the best this week ahead.

~ Lisa