Health Purr-ks: Petplan Explores the Benefits of Pets for People 50+

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From companionship to stress relief, furry friends enhance quality of life as we age.

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Petplan, the exclusive provider of pet insurance for AARP members, explains why pet ownership is a major contributing factor to health and wellbeing for Americans 50 and over. Studies show that sharing your home with a furry friend can do everything from encouraging physical fitness to helping to decrease stress hormones – and that the effects of the human-animal bond are especially beneficial for older adults.

“Pet people have always known that four-legged friends make us feel better, but now we’re seeing science back up our belief. Studies have clearly shown that pets help encourage physical exercise and what’s more, they play a big part in facilitating social engagement for their owners,” says Dr. Jules Benson, Chief Veterinary Medical Officer at Petplan. “Something as simple as a neighbor stopping to pet a dog and striking up a conversation with its owner can have a measurable impact on an individual’s emotional fitness as well as help combat feelings of isolation and loneliness.”

So how exactly do canine and feline companions improve health for older adults? Here are a few of the benefits:

Exercise – it’s for the dogs (literally!)

  • Dog owners spend an average of 1.4 hours per day outside roaming with Rover. Strutting with a mutt can lower the risk of heart disease by helping people achieve their recommended level of physical activity. 1
  • Walking can deliver health perks even after the initial workout is over. An NIH study of adults ages 71-82 showed that those who walked regularly moved faster and were able to walk for longer time periods each week than those who didn’t exercise – plus, they had better mobility inside their homes than the non-walkers. 2

Sense of Purr-pose

  • According to AARP, 51.6% (or 54 million) of Americans 50 and over are not in the labor force. Having a daily commitment like walking, feeding, grooming and caring for a pet can help provide structure to the day for those no longer working.
  • Gerontologists have shown that pets can be helpful for orienting a person's day when they are living alone. After all, it may be easy to ignore the growling of your own stomach, but when there’s a wet nose nudging you, it’s hard to forget mealtime! 3

Stress Relief

  • In a study of elderly persons receiving home assistance, 74% reported that touching their pet made them feel better.1
  • Another study found that people who own a pet have lower heart rates and blood pressure, whether at rest or when undergoing stressful tests. 2
  • Pets make us laugh! A good giggle can enhance intake of oxygen-rich air, stimulate the heart, lungs and muscles, increase endorphins released by the brain, strengthen the immune system, boost energy and diminish pain. 4

“A wet nose and whiskers can be the greatest natural mood booster in the world” agrees Natasha Ashton, Co-Founder and Co-CEO of Petplan. “At 70 years old, my mother was feeling lonely and depressed, but was absolutely transformed after adopting a senior dog. Not only did her weight and blood pressure return to healthy levels from the increase in physical activity, but she seemed much happier and fully engaged in life again after Tilly wiggled her paws into her heart.”

Besides the companionship pets provide, it is clear that the paws-itive impact they have on Americans 50 and over has true scientific credence. To help adults of every age reap the physical and emotional benefits a furry friend can provide, Petplan has launched a special pet insurance offer for AARP members. Petplan hopes that by educating and spreading awareness of pet insurance among the group’s 38 million members, more people will feel confident in welcoming a furry friend – and all the purr-ks they provide – into their home and heart.

For more information about how AARP members can save 10% or more on Petplan pet insurance and receive a $35 Visa® Prepaid Card, a wellness benefit with their policy, please visit or call 800.239.6870.

3. USA Today


Petplan is more than a pet insurance company. We're dedicated to providing pet parents with the support, resources and tools they need to keep their pets not just surviving—but thriving—into their old age. Simply put, we aim to be the kind of company that will make our pets proud. For the second consecutive year, Petplan was listed among the top 50 companies on Forbes' annual ranking of America’s Most Promising Companies – a list of 100 privately held, high-growth companies with bright futures. Petplan is the only pet insurance company to have been included on Inc. Magazine’s list of 500 fastest-growing, privately held companies in America.

Petplan’s fully customizable cat and dog insurance policies provide comprehensive coverage for all hereditary and chronic conditions for the life of the pet as standard. Petplan policies are underwritten by AGCS Marine Insurance Company in the U.S. and by Allianz Global Risks US Insurance Company in Canada. The Allianz Group was rated A+ by A.M. Best in 2014. For more information about Petplan pet insurance, visit or call 1-866-467-3875.

AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, with a membership of nearly 38 million, that helps people turn their goals and dreams into real possibilities, strengthens communities and fights for the issues that matter most to families such as healthcare, employment and income security, retirement planning, affordable utilities and protection from financial abuse. We advocate for individuals in the marketplace by selecting products and services of high quality and value to carry the AARP name as well as help our members obtain discounts on a wide range of products, travel, and services. A trusted source for lifestyle tips, news and educational information, AARP produces AARP The Magazine, the world's largest circulation magazine; AARP Bulletin;; AARP TV & Radio; AARP Books; and AARP en Español, a Spanish-language website addressing the interests and needs of Hispanics. AARP does not endorse candidates for public office or make contributions to political campaigns or candidates. The AARP Foundation is an affiliated charity that provides security, protection, and empowerment to older persons in need with support from thousands of volunteers, donors, and sponsors. AARP has staffed offices in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Learn more at

Visa® Prepaid Card is issued by CenterState Bank of Florida, NA pursuant to a license from Visa U.S.A. Inc.

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Katy Rambo
Brian Communications
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Jessica Kinney
Sr. PR Associate, Petplan
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