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There’s a new twist to pet ownership. Robotic pets are ever so steadily becoming more popular, thanks to various companies releasing robot cats and dogs to serve as companions for older adults.
Much like real animals, robotic pets provide plenty of benefits, including emotional support, physical activity, and mental stimulation. Young or old, anyone can benefit from having a furry friend around to make their day instantly brighter.
Robotic pets are a little different from real ones, of course. But more and more evidence shows that their perks might not be far off from real pets, and they even have a few advantages over their living counterparts.
That said, here are the 7 biggest benefits of investing in a robot pet.
Live pets are exactly that: living beings. They have distinct personalities and that’s part of why we love them so much. But it also means they’re a huge responsibility, especially if you want to raise one in the healthiest environment possible. You’ll also have to spend time training them, teaching them where to do their business, preventing them from playing with furniture, and so on.
Robot pets don’t have any of those problems. They’re only programmed to mimic the lovable parts of a real pet, without any of the taxing responsibilities. Such a low-maintenance companion is well-suited for those who can’t afford taking care of a real pet, either physically or financially.
That’s why you’ll find many socially isolated seniors living in nursing homes gifted with a companion pet. Plenty of our older adult loved ones live in social isolation and need the warmth of a furry friend to get by. However, taking care of a real puppy is nonetheless challenging, regardless of age. That’s why researchers found using a robotic pet in animal-assisted therapy to be a great alternative for older adults.
A robotic pet doesn’t require the training that a live pet does. While training can be one of the many ways to bond with a live pet, not everyone has the time to do it. Taking care of kids, working full-time, or having a busy calendar can all get in the way.
Dogs are a prime example: if you don’t train them properly, they might end up chewing your shoes or pooping on the rug. For those who wish to play fetch or walk a real dog but don’t exactly have the time to spare, a robotic dog can play the part.
Unlike real dogs, they won’t need to be “potty trained” or given food every few hours. Instead, families get to reap the companionship and joy that a pet brings into life.
Robotic pets are modeled after real animals’ behavior, but they also have a few features that live animals don’t. Take a look at robotic dogs, for example. They’re developed to mimic the movements and behaviors of a real pet, but they have a few extra tricks up their sleeve. Many are programmed with the ability to sing, dance, and even talk.
In that way, they become a great source of entertainment for children and older adults, improving their quality of life. Some of them are programmed to respond immediately to their owner’s voices and do tricks with voice commands.
Another drawback of having a live animal as a pet is that they can easily break the bank. Everyone wants a puppy to play with, but not everyone can afford a trip to the vet or even to purchase pet food regularly. That’s one disadvantage a real animal has. Caring for a pet is a big responsibility, especially if you want to provide it with the best quality of life possible.
Robotic pets, on the other hand, eliminate the unpredictability of expenses as the bulk of the costs are paid upfront. That way, families will know from the start exactly how much you’ll be spending. No extra costs for food, toys, or emergency medical bills.
Perhaps the most important benefit of robotic companion pets is their role in pet therapy. Aside from providing companionship to residents of elderly living facilities, companion pets are used as a tool to aid the mental and physical well-being of older adults who suffer from Alzheimer’s disease and/or dementia.
In a research project done by the Florida Department of Elder Affairs, patients in dementia living care centers showed a drastic improvement in mood and memory. Other research supports the idea of pets being a great tool in assisting memory care for residents with dementia.
A separate program conducted on dementia patients in Birmingham, Alabama showed positive results with the Ageless Innovation Joy For All companion pets. Patients who primarily exhibited behavioral, mental, and social problems were found to have improved quality of life after being introduced to a robotic companion pet.
Family, friends, and loved ones of the seniors were able to point out a significant reduction in mood problems, feelings of loneliness and social isolation, as well as memory problems.
One of the most fun parts about having a pet is that you get to walk them, play with them, and basically engage in a number of physical activities that otherwise might have been time spent sitting down.
While a robotic pet won’t be as active as a live companion pet, you will still get to have a level of physical engagement with it, be it walking or simply playing with it. The best part is you get to do it around your time: these companion pets are controlled by you, after all.
In addition, certain cases show a myriad of health benefits from owning robot dogs or cats. These include lowered blood pressure, reduced stress levels, and improved memory quality.
Robot dogs might be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of an artificial intelligence-powered pet. But dogs aren’t the only animal getting a boost from technology.
Robot dogs are certainly one of the best-selling robot pet models from the Ageless Innovation Joy For All line, thanks to ever-growing technology, the pool of options is widening. Give your favorite cat person a robotic cat, or someone who prefers rarer pets a robotic seal or dinosaur.
It’s been said before that the world has developed a loneliness crisis. Even before the pandemic, plenty of people suffered from feelings of isolation and depression, which have only been exacerbated by the global health crisis.
The thought of relying on a robotic companion to keep our mental health from deteriorating seems both hopeful and bleak — it’s certainly a step in the right direction when we’re able to provide a worry-free source of joy for those incapable of caring for a live pet.
Ted Fischer, Hasbro vice president of business development, believes that these animatronic cat and dog toys have an important role in battling isolation. They provide comfort, companionship, and joy; three valuable assets in today’s social climate.
But robot pets have disadvantages, too. It’s been noted that some patients are unable to differentiate between robots and a real live pet. This caused them to unnecessarily worry about their robots, which defeats the purpose of having one.
It’s hard to put the responsibility of solving the loneliness epidemic on animatronics. What we can do is appreciate the strides this technology has made by improving the quality of life for those who need it the most.