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Research Shows for the Elderly, Companion Animals are Sometimes the Best Medicine

Pet Health Pet Health

Looking for a remedy to brighten the life of an older adult?

A dog, a cat or some other cuddly animal companion could be the best medicine, according to researchers at the WALTHAM Centre for Pet Nutrition, the University of Montana and The Ohio State University.

The companionship of an animal brings emotional and physical benefits, the researchers concluded. However, having a pet is not always easy for older adults. For one, there are financial considerations for food and for vet visits. And time and agility to take care of pets can also be problematic.

Such barriers can be overcome, noted Sandra McCune, PhD, Scientific Leader, Human Animal Interaction at WALTHAM. McCune said the March 2015 report “shines a light on the services that exist, and inspires communities, institutions and policymakers to find new and innovative solutions.”

Programs that exist include financial help for adoption fees, home delivery of pet food, and organizations that provide people to help look after or rehome those pets whose human companions can no longer care for them.

The researchers suggested innovations such as pet adoption prescriptions, trial shelter adoptions, and match programs for breeds and species.

“We envision a future in which fostering human-animal bonds is no longer seen as alternative care, but a standard of care,” McCune said.

For more information on Waltham Centre, visit www.waltham.com.