Dog lovers have been saying it since the beginning of time: pooches are good for your health. More and more research is being published that says dogs are key to improving health, especially for older adults and the elderly.

Actually, dogs can give seniors some specific health benefits that might surprise you:

  • Heart health: Sure, you probably get that warm, fuzzy feeling when you spend time with Fido. But dogs can actually improve the physical heath of your heart. From lowering blood pressure to decreasing heart rate, dogs are good for your ticker. They’ve even been linked to higher recovery rates in those who experienced heart attacks.
  • Mental health: Dogs have been found to drastically lower stress, alleviate symptoms of depression, and even comfort those living with dementia and Alzheimer’s.
  • Longer life: Yep, your dog can even help you live longer. A study found that for seniors living alone, the risk of death was 33% lower for dog owners.

Of course, it’s important to do your homework before bringing home a furry friend for yourself or for a loved one. Keep in mind that pets come with significant responsibilities which may be difficult for some. In addition, if the senior you’re adopting for lives in an assisted living community, some may have a no-animals policy.

If you feel a dog would make a great addition to a senior’s life, try the local shelter before heading to a breeder. Shelter dogs are often overlooked, but tend to make the best companions! Look for a pup with a calm, relaxed personality and friendly disposition. For more tips and tricks for choosing the perfect pet, check out this helpful guide to pet ownership for seniors.