Companion dogs are part of families and households and are relevant to individuals of all ages. Research has mainly focused on the role of therapy and service dogs in people’s lives. Dogs have been involved for therapeutic purposes in interventions targeting older adults with depression and dementia, mostly in institutional settings, and have shown effectiveness. However, the literature on the impact of pet dogs on community-dwelling older adults is scarce. This study mapped the impact of having a companion dog on the mobility of community-dwelling older adults living in urban areas using a scoping review. Electronic databases were searched, and studies written in English, Portuguese, and Spanish that were published in a peer-reviewed journal were identified. After a careful review, 23 eligible studies were identified, and relevant findings were extracted. The main findings indicated companion dogs contribute in terms of companionship and affection to the well-being of the older adults; however, in terms of daily mobility, results suggest ambiguous impacts that depend on the dog, the owner, and environmental features. For instance, older adult dog owners may spend more time at home to ensure that their dogs are not alone, thus limiting mobility. Dog characteristics (in particular size, age, and behavior) have been scarcely explored and may mediate dog–owner mobility. Outdoor spaces, including dog-friendly spaces, increase the frequency and quality of activities outside the home, including with the companion dog. More research is needed to clarify what makes having a companion dog key to promoting active and healthy aging.
Liliana Sousa, University of Aveiro, Portugal
Suellen Costa, University of Aveiro, Portugal
Helena Reis, University of Coimbra, Portugal
Miguel Padeiro, University of Coimbra, Portugal