There will eventually come a time in your life when you will need to think about provisions for your elderly relatives. This can be upsetting, but there can also be positive aspects as well. One of these is getting them a dog. Pets like this can be extremely beneficial for older people, and can make their twilight years much healthier and happier.

Dogs are wonderful pets at any age, but for the elderly they bring a host of added advantages. It has been found that older people who have adopted dogs end up not needing to visit the doctor as much, are less likely to become depressed and there is even evidence to suggest that they even have a lower risk of developing heart problems.

This may seem impossible, but in actuality the causes of all these advantages are simple. For a start, having a dog gives people a reason to get out of the house for regular walks. Older people with reduced energy often end up staying indoors, and therefore do not get the exercise they need.

Regular walks will drastically improve the health of elderly people. It can also be a social activity, staving off feelings of loneliness. This is another major advantage of having a dog: the companionship and affection the pets offer.

The combination of regular walks and reduced stress caused by the companionship of a dog is excellent for the health of older people, particularly their hearts. It is a great way to keep an elderly loved one occupied, and ensure their mind stays active.

However, choosing a dog for an older person is not as simple as it would be for yourself. They have very different needs and abilities, and will not benefit from certain dog choices. Everybody is different, but there are a few things you should probably bear in mind that apply to most older people.

Firstly, an elderly relative is unlikely to be able to properly take care of a particularly big, active dog. Large dogs are not necessarily a major problem for the elderly, as long as they are relatively docile, but they can be hard to handle. Make sure they have help available if the dog is injured and needs to be picked up to go to the vet.

Equally, an active dog will probably be fine if they are small and not too energetic. These dogs do not require much effort to exercise, as they will often be content to run around the house while their owner is inactive, and they do not need walking as far. However, breeds like the Jack Russell will almost certainly be too much to handle.

However, a breed that is both large and active such as a husky will be completely inappropriate. If the dog sees something it wants to chase while out on a walk, you want to be sure that its elderly owner is going to be able to control it without being knocked to the ground.

Another thing to consider is the temperament of the dog. Your elderly relative is more likely to need a dog for companionship than one that will make a good watchdog, or be great for children to play with. You need to choose a breed noted for this.

You could consider a breed known for its amiable nature, such as the Poodle. These are good dogs to go for as they are not all that active and quite easy to keep, as well as being extremely friendly. However, they will require fairly regular trips to the groomer.

Another option is to go for a dog like the Corgi or Daschund. These dogs make excellent companions, and although they have a strong personality they are easy to manage due to their short legs, meaning your elderly relative will be able to handle them with no problems.

One other thing to bear in mind is that it is almost always better to opt for an adult dog over a puppy. You can guarantee a clean bill of health, and an older person is unlikely to want to deal with the stress of raising a puppy properly. They will need training, and can become a handful in later life if their elderly owner is not able to provide this.

Written by: Hannah