Many medical professionals and health industry researchers have been touting pets as stress and loneliness combating companions, but elderly owners of cats and dogs may face certain risks from their four-legged housemates.
According to a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 86,629 non-fatal falls were connected to dogs and cats, on average, in a recent five-year study. The vast majority of those injuries - 88 percent - were due to dogs.
"If we were giving a drug that had such a serious side effect, we'd consider taking that drug off the market," said Western Carolina University professor of psychology Harold Herzog, as reported by The New York Times.
The CDC notes, however, that pet ownership may lead to lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, two significant health benefits for seniors. For those living alone or receiving private home care, a furry companion can help fight feelings of loneliness and encourage exercise as well.
The American Veterinary Medical Association recommends against certain non-traditional pets for individuals of all ages. Wild creatures and zoo animals may pose greater risks of disease or attacks, although some reptiles, birds and rodents may prove to be low-maintenance companions for those with limited mobility.