Pet Owners

Senior canine companions help over 55s fill ‘empty nests’

Research commissioned by natural pet food company Lily’s Kitchen, who is partnering with animal welfare charity Mayhew as they look to raise awareness of the benefits that adopting an older dog can have on over 55s across the country.

Tens of thousands of older dogs are abandoned or put up for rehoming in the UK every year, with British over 55s saying the main attributes they look for in a companion are loyalty, trustworthiness, comfort and a sense of company, an older dog could be the solution.

Some 45% of over 55s said their dog helps reduce their stress, anxiety and depression levels while 17% went as far as saying their dog was “the reason they get up in the morning”.

The research also stated that having a dog even helped “empty nesters” fill the void of not having their kids at home anymore, but also 54% said their mental health didn’t suffer as a result, with a further 25% saying they helped keep loneliness levels at a minimum and 21% it encouraged them to do exercise.

Tanya Madden, Mayhew’s deputy head of animal welfare, said: “Many people automatically think of a puppy or young dog when they think of adopting a dog, but older dogs are calmer, more relaxed, more independent and often trained, providing that loyal and uplifting companion over 55s may be looking for. Rehoming an adult or senior dog can be immensely gratifying whilst providing a second chance to a deserving pet to become part of a loving household.”

Henrietta Morrison, founder of Lily’s Kitchen, added: “Owning an older dog requires a change of pace. Taking care of them is a very different way of life to when they were excitable puppies. And the transition from puppy to old dog seems to happen very quickly. Lily is now sixteen but it only seems like yesterday she was chasing little Lulu, my other Border Terrier aged six around the garden. Life is much slower with an older dog; you have to be so much more sensitive to their needs.

“But learning to be slower does have its benefits for us humans and this often suits older people much more. I’m definitely making the most of every moment I can spend with Lily and enjoying taking things at her pace instead of mine.”

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