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Navigating Pet Ownership for Seniors

By DoodyCalls

As we age, our needs and lifestyle intentions evolve, but one thing remains constant - the desire for companionship and purpose. For many seniors, pets provide not only companionship but also numerous health benefits and a sense of fulfillment. However, owning a pet as a senior comes with its own set of considerations and challenges. Fortunately, there are services that make pet ownership more manageable, especially for seniors. Read on to see if pet ownership as a senior is the right fit for you or a loved one.

Benefits of Pet Ownership for the Elderly:

Health Benefits: Numerous studies have shown that owning a pet can positively affect seniors' health, including reducing stress, lowering blood pressure, and even improving heart health. According to a study published in JAMA, adults 50 or older who live alone and who own a pet were found to have less decline in verbal memory and verbal fluency than those without one.

Combat Loneliness and Depression: Pets provide constant companionship and unconditional love, helping seniors who live alone or are homebound combat feelings of loneliness and depression, which are common among older adults.

Increased Physical Activity: Taking care of a pet often involves physical activities such as walking, playing, and general care, which can help seniors stay active and maintain mobility.

Companionship and Routine: Pets offer companionship and provide a sense of routine and purpose for seniors, particularly those living alone. Having a pet means that you have committed to being involved in another life and the responsibility that comes with it each day.

Shared Activities: Pets can serve as conversation starters and facilitate social interactions with other pet owners, fostering a sense of community and relationships with others.

Protection and Security: Many seniors feel safer and more secure with a pet in the home, especially if they live alone. Pets can alert their owners to potential dangers and provide protection.

Pets for Seniors: Considerations to Take

Before deciding to bring a pet into their lives, seniors should carefully consider the following factors:

Age and Activity Level of the Pet: Seniors should choose a pet that matches their lifestyle and energy level. A low-energy pet may be more suitable for a senior with limited mobility, while an energetic puppy might not be the best fit.

Ability to Care for the Pet: Seniors must assess whether they have the physical ability and resources to properly care for a pet, including providing food, exercise, grooming, and veterinary care.

Past Pet Ownership Experience: Seniors should reflect on their past experiences with pet ownership and consider whether they are prepared for the responsibilities and commitments involved.

Living Situation: Seniors should have a plan prepared for if their living situation were to change due to health or other circumstances. This may mean moving into a smaller apartment or care facility that does not allow pets. Is there a friend or loved one that would take in your pet?

Best Pets for Seniors:

While the best pet for a senior ultimately depends on individual preferences and circumstances, some popular options include:

  • Dogs: Certain dog breeds are well-suited for seniors due to their temperament, size, and energy levels. Some recommended dog breeds for seniors include:

    • Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

    • Poodle (Toy or Miniature)

    • Shih Tzu

    • Maltese

    • Pug

  • Cats: Cats are low-maintenance pets that can provide companionship and affection without the need for regular walks or outdoor activities.

  • Small Animals: Small pets like birds or fish can also make great companions for seniors, depending on their preferences and living situations.

Challenges for Seniors Owning Pets:

While pet ownership can be rewarding, seniors may face certain challenges, including:

Physical Limitations: Seniors with limited mobility may struggle to meet their pets' needs, such as walking a dog or cleaning a litter box.

Financial Constraints: Pet care expenses, including food, veterinary care, and grooming, can be a significant burden for seniors on fixed incomes.

Health Concerns: Seniors with chronic health conditions may find it challenging to care for a pet, especially if they require assistance with their own daily activities.

Helping Seniors with Pets:

Fortunately, several services cater to seniors' pet care needs, making pet ownership more manageable and enjoyable:

  • DoodyCalls: DoodyCalls offers pet waste management services, helping seniors maintain a clean and sanitary environment for themselves and their pets. No matter the size of the yard or the number of dogs, DoodyCalls can tailor a poop-scooping schedule to your needs. 

  • Woofie’s: Woofie’s provides mobile grooming, dog walking, and pet sitting services, offering convenience and peace of mind for seniors who may have difficulty getting out of the house.

  • The Farmer’s Dog: The Farmer’s Dog offers pet food delivery services, ensuring seniors have access to nutritious and high-quality food for their furry companions.
  • Homewatch CareGivers: Homewatch CareGivers offers in-home care services, providing assistance with pet care tasks and other daily activities for seniors who may need extra support.

In addition to these services, organizations like Pets for the Elderly aim to facilitate pet adoption for seniors by covering adoption fees and promoting the benefits of pet ownership for older adults.

Owning a pet as a senior can enhance quality of life, providing companionship, purpose, and numerous health benefits. With the right considerations and support from pet care services, seniors can enjoy the joys of pet ownership while maintaining their independence and well-being.