There are over 29 million pets in Australia, and we have one of the highest pet ownership rates in the world. According to the RSPCA in 2020 approximately 61% of households in Australia own pets, with dogs being the most common (40%), followed by cats (27%).
So clearly most of us have had a beloved pet or two in our lifetime, but with the demands of work and family, you may not have added a furry friend to the family dynamic for some time. If you are considering getting a pet for yourself or for an elderly loved one, it is valuable to consider both the work and effort involved and the benefits.
Benefits of owning a pet
Pet ownership has been comprehensively researched and there are numerous studies that outline the benefits of pet ownership which includes.
• Reduce blood pressure, cholesterol and triglyceride levels,
• Daily exercise (if your pet is a dog).
• Reducing stress and releasing the feel-good hormone-oxytocin
• Reducing social isolation and increasing social connectedness
• Pet owners report less depression and appear to cope with grief, stress and loss better than non-pet owners; and
• They can make us feel safe while we’re home alone and they keep an eye on the house while we are out
Things to keep in mind when considering a pet
It’s not always easy caring for pets however, and sometimes having them in the home poses health hazards for older adults. If you have problems with gait and stability and your pet can get under your feet or jump up and knock you over, then falls and broken bones are a real danger.
There are also sanitary risks associated with pet ownership. Animals can carry parasites that can be transferred to humans. Cats in particular carry a parasite called Toxoplasma gondii, which can get into your brain and cause a condition known as toxoplasmosis. People with compromised immune systems are especially vulnerable to this. Animal faeces carry all kinds of bacteria that can make you sick. Dogs and cats can also cause allergic reactions in some pet owners.
Before getting a pet, consider if you’re physically and mentally able to care for it. Do you have the memory skills to remember to feed the animal? Do you have the energy, strength, and mobility to feed it, play with it, clean up after it, and, in the case of dogs, take it for daily walks? Do you have the financial means to pay for pet food, grooming, and visits to the veterinarian?
Ways to find a pet
The best way to find a pet is with some online research. A good option for older Australians can be rescuing a pet from the RSPCA or equivalent. You’ll find a range of animals and some will have the added benefit of being older, wiser and trained. The staff at the centres will always help you to find the best pet for your needs. If you’d like to give pet ownership a short try, or would just like to have a part-time pet, RSPCA, and many other local organisations offer fostering options, which can save an animal’s life.
At Perth Care + Companion Company our companions enjoy helping people with their pets, so if you are looking for someone to assist you and your pet please call 9276 1520 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org