There’s no denying we’re a country of dog-lovers – in fact almost 1 in 4 households in the UK own a dog. However, when it comes to our furry four-legged friends, it seems they have more to offer than just cuddles!

Doreen Barratt, Sarah York and Lottie

Doreen Barratt, Sarah York and Lottie

According to Campaign to End Loneliness, there are 1.2 million chronically lonely older people in the UK, and with reports indicating that by 2050 one quarter of the UK population will be over 65, we can only assume this figure is sadly set to rise.

To combat the loneliness epidemic, Pedigree has launched unique initiative, ‘Dog Dates’, which will see lonely seniors paired with local dogs and their owners to go on doggy dates, in a bid to encourage companionship and ease social isolation.

To celebrate this launch, the WALTHAM Centre for Pet Nutrition has shared 7 ways in which dogs can help elderly people, based on their research:

Increased physical activity

Pet owners tend to be more active. Among older adults, dog owners get on average 22 more minutes of exercise a day than non-dog-owners. Those who walk their dog are more likely to be in good physical health: lower body weight, fewer chronic health conditions and fewer limits on their daily activities such preparing meals and bathing independently.

Reduced risk factors for cardiovascular disease

In parallel to the increased physical activity, studies show that there is a clear reduction in cholesterol and triglycerides levels. In fact, during one of the studies, 94% of heart patients with pets survived heart attacks, compared to only 72% without pets!

Less likely to be lonely

Loneliness is something that affects all areas of society with approximately 9 million suffering with loneliness and social isolation in the UK alone. Research from the WALTHAM Centre for Pet Nutrition in to the benefits of Human-Animal-Interaction, show that pet ownership can increase social interaction and broaden social networks, with approximately 40% of pet owners reportedly receiving social support from people they met through their pet. It is hoped the ‘Pedigree Dog Dates’ initiative will go some way in combatting the issue of loneliness gripping the UK.

Mental health

Older adults who live with pets tend to experience less loneliness and lower blood pressure, while a close relationship with pets has been associated with reduced depression in recently bereaved adults. Emerging research is also showing that therapy involving animals can help older people with dementia.

Social health

Those with pets are more likely to get to know their neighbours, spark conversations, and in turn receive social support from people they meet through their pet. As part of the Dog Dates initiative, elderly people are able to connect with their community.

Coping with stressful events

Pets encourage us to get up and move, make us laugh, provide comfort and a­ffection, and can even help us meet new friends and get to know our neighbours which can help cope with stressful events.

For more information on Pedigree Dog Dates, visit their website at

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