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Older man smiling and petting a large yellow dog

How Pet Therapy Can Improve Seniors' Moods

There are a wide variety of different techniques and methods to uplift your mood, including medications, therapy, keeping your body healthy, and maintaining regular social interactions with family and friends. One method that has rapidly gained traction in healthcare, educational, and senior living environments is pet therapy. Multiple studies and eyewitnesses report that pet therapy can help bring depressed or withdrawn older adults out of their shells and remind them of time spent with past pets. Ebenezer Senior Living has compiled a list of some of these benefits to highlight the importance of pet therapy for seniors.

A Calming Effect

Seniors suffering from the effects of dementia, Alzheimer’s, or other memory disorders may frequently become frustrated or aggravated. Studies show that the presence of an animal has a calming effect on older adults and may help alleviate some of these behavioral outbursts. Petting a furry friend like a dog or cat calms both the body and the senses, and the animal will likely return your affections, making you feel even better.


While many pet therapy services offer traveling animals that visit senior living communities on a regular schedule, keeping a personal pet can provide a closer bond than a designated support animal. Having a furry friend at hand can also help quash feelings of loneliness or depression before they become too overpowering. Additionally, taking a dog for a walk or joining online groups for other pet owners is a great way to meet new people.

Improved Physical Health

In addition to the mental health benefits therapy animals and pets can provide, they can also promote physical activity and better nutrition, according to several studies. Playing with a pet or therapy animal is a great way to stay active, and if you’re taking good care of your pet, chances are you’ll be taking good care of yourself, as well. Additionally, if you’re in a better mood, you’re more likely to eat well.

Providing a Sense of Purpose

For many retired adults, especially those dealing with recent personal losses or depression, getting out of bed can be a struggle. The daily tasks and care associated with pet ownership can spur you out of bed and inspire you to treat yourself better. If you’re preparing food for a dog or cat, why not make a meal for yourself while you’re at it?

We hope these examples were able to paint a good picture of why pet ownership or therapy animals can be great choices for seniors. For more discussion about daily senior living, check out the Ebenezer blog.

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Resident looking at some papers with an advisor at Ebenezer Senior Living
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Ebenezer is Minnesota’s largest senior living operator with over 100 years of experience serving older adults. As part of Fairview Health Services, Ebenezer is dedicated to healing, discovering and educating for longer, healthier and meaningful lives. ​

Discrimination is Against the Law. We comply with applicable Federal civil rights laws. We do not discriminate against, exclude or treat people differently because of race, color, national origin, age, disability, sex or sexual orientation.

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