Could dog breeding be a buffer against outliving retirement income? Probably not, but pet ownership, especially dogs, is common among people over 50, according to a survey by AARP. The overwhelming reason for getting a pet was companionship (only 2 percent said they got a pet specifically for breeding or profit-making purposes), but one of the side effects reported was an increase in exercise.

Nearly 40 percent of boomers have a dog, and almost one-quarter have a cat. Older pet owners were more likely to say they got a pet as a companion, and men were more likely to say they got it for protection.

Nearly 60 percent of dog owners say they get the same amount of exercise as they did before they got their dog, and 29 percent say they get more exercise. Women and older dog owners are more likely to exercise their dogs several times a day.