In the company of wolves: the physical, social, and psychological benefits of dog ownership

J Aging Health. 2008 Jun;20(4):437-55. doi: 10.1177/0898264308315875.


Objective: The increase in aging populations has implications for the provision of health and social services. A preventative approach is taken to address this problem by examining a mechanism that can enhance physical health and reduce minor ailments.

Methods: Participants in 10 focus groups discussed physical, psychological, and social benefits associated with human-dog interactions.

Results: Interaction between humans and dogs is a mechanism that can enhance the physical and psychological health of elderly citizens and promote a social support network between dog owners. In turn, dependence and impact on health and social services are alleviated.

Discussion: The social and community consequences of promoting dog ownership in the elderly are addressed, and it is concluded that the benefits of dog ownership should be promoted among the elderly and acknowledged by relevant agencies.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging / psychology*
  • Animals
  • Animals, Domestic / psychology*
  • Dogs* / psychology
  • Exercise
  • Female
  • Health Promotion*
  • Health Status
  • Human-Animal Bond*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Social Support
  • United Kingdom
  • Walking