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Top 5 Pets for Seniors


Pets are great companions and can help you stay active. But before you jump into being a pet parent, or gift your aging parent with a dog or cat, you need to think about the best pet for you and your lifestyle.

Pets Help Improve Your Health

Studies have shown the bond between pets and their owners can have significant health benefits for older adults. Those benefits include lessening depression and lowering blood pressure, cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Pets can also help reduce anxiety, PTSD symptoms and loneliness.

Many of these improvements are especially true for dog owners. Most studies indicate the benefits are likely due to the calming effects pets can have on us and the need to exercise their dogs.

Are You Ready for Pet Ownership?

When you’re thinking about getting or gifting a pet, consider what pet ownership will mean for your aging parents or an older adult. Questions to ask yourself include:

  1. 1. What size pet do you want, and what size is appropriate for your home?
  2. 2. Do you want a pet that requires a lot of exercise or one that doesn’t?
  3. 3. Do you have the time, physical ability and lifestyle to devote to a pet?
  4. 4. Can you afford the cost and care a pet requires, including vet visits, food, exercise, training and interaction with your pet?

We welcome pets at Friends Village. Our 30 acre campus includes trails where you can walk with your pet. Whether you choose one of our cottages or apartments, there is room for you and your pet.

The Top 5 Pets for Seniors

Once you decide to add a pet to your family, choosing the best one for you is next. The five most popular pets for seniors are:

  • Dogs
  • Cats
  • Rabbits
  • Birds
  • Fish

Which type is best for you depends on your likes and dislikes.

The Best Dogs for Seniors

There are dozens of considerations that go into choosing the right dog for a senior. Among them are:

  • Age: adopting an older dog means you eliminate the puppy phase. Most older dogs are already housebroken, have calmer personalities and walk on a leash.
  • Size: there are several breeds popular with seniors, including shih tzus, corgis, miniature schnauzers and spaniels.
  • Daily care: some dogs, like the miniature schnauzer, require little grooming and are hypoallergenic. Others, like the corgi, shed heavily and require attention to grooming.
  • Temperament: certain breeds have a more aggressive temperament while others are more family-friendly.

Choosing a Cat

Cats have several advantages over adopting a dog. Most breeds are low maintenance with their short hair coats. They don’t require daily walks and are happy indoors. On the other hand, they need a litter box with regular cleaning. And while they have the reputation of sleeping all day and night, they do need intellectual stimulation and interaction with their humans.

Rabbits Make Good Pets

Rabbits might not be the first pet for an older adult that comes to mind, but they actually are a very good choice. Like a cat, they can be happy living indoors, trained to use a litter box and bond with their owner. And like both cats and dogs, rabbits come in a wide variety of sizes and breeds. Plus, their soft fur encourages handling and petting them, actions that help calm people with dementia.

Birds as Senior Pets

Birds are a popular choice because they are generally low maintenance, don’t require exercise and are an option if you have allergies. On the other hand, the larger birds like macaws and parrots can be quite vocal, while canaries, finches and parakeets are quieter. Cockatoos, parrots and macaws can live for 40 or more years. So planning for their future should be part of your decision process.

Don’t Forget the Fish

Although fish aren’t cute and cuddly, they make great pets. You’ll need to decide if you have the time and inclination for a saltwater aquarium or if a low-maintenance freshwater aquarium is more your speed. And if all else fails, you could always consider an artificial (fake) aquarium.

No matter which type of pet you choose for retirement years, you’ll both find a warm welcome when you choose independent living at Friends Village. Call us today to schedule a personal tour to see all that we have to offer both of you.