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The ultimate guide to pets for seniors

Learn why a pet may be the perfect companion for seniors

Pets are a companion and source of comfort for people of all ages, but they can especially benefit seniors who may be more lonely than others. 

73% of pet owners from age 50 to 80 report that their pets help to give them a sense of purpose. [1] Pets for seniors are also a great way to get more exercise and connect with others. 

If you’re considering getting a pet for you or a senior loved one, explore our guide on how to choose the best pet for seniors.



What are the benefits of pet ownership and animal interaction for seniors? 

Pets can be greatly beneficial for seniors’ mental and physical health.

Owning a pet, especially a dog, can encourage seniors to get out and exercise more often. Regular exercise effectively helps seniors improve their cardiovascular health, strengthen their muscles and improve their bone health, decreasing the risk of falls and bone breaks. 

Pet owners also tend to have a significantly lower resting heart rate and lower blood pressure than people who do not own pets. [2] 

Pet ownership can also improve seniors’ emotional wellbeing and mental health. Pets make great companions and can decrease feelings of loneliness and depression that seniors often face. Pets are often conversation starters too—they can spark social connections which can help alleviate symptoms of depression. 

Pets also provide a sense of responsibility and purpose to seniors by giving them a reason to get out of bed in the morning since their pets depend on them for food, exercise, and play. 


Learn more:

8 easy in-home exercises for seniors


What are the average costs of owning a pet? 

Pets are an investment and it’s important to take the time to consider this choice before adopting a furry friend. There are initial, one-time costs, such as adoption fees and spaying or neutering, and there are also recurring costs, such as food, vet appointments, and toys. 

The yearly average of pet ownership can range from $27 for a fish to $1,040 for a large dog—an important factor to consider when initially looking at pets for seniors. [3]


What are the responsibilities of pet ownership?

Every pet comes with their own unique set of needs. Nevertheless, the responsibilities to owning a fish are less than those of owning a dog.

Needs of cats and dogs: 

  • Daily exercise and playtime 
  • Daily food and water 
  • Regular vet appointments 
  • Grooming and nail trimming 
  • Flea and tick control. 

Needs of birds: 

  • Daily food and water 
  • Weekly cage cleanings 
  • Regular nail trimming 
  • Regular vet appointments. 

Needs of fish: 

  • Daily food 
  • Regular tank cleanings 
  • Occasional filter changes and water treatments.

There are also other pets available too such as hamsters, guinea pigs, and rabbits that each have their own needs and come with unique responsibilities. 

It’s important seniors are aware of these responsibilities and take them into consideration before adopting or purchasing a pet to ensure they can handle the responsibilities.


How to choose the appropriate pet for seniors

If you’ve decided a pet is perfect for you or your aging loved one, choosing the appropriate pet is the next step. Keep health and exercise needs, costs, and personality in mind. 

Animals each have their own unique personality, and it’s important to match the pet’s personality to the senior’s. 

If you’re looking for a pet that will allow you or your loved one to get daily exercise, then a dog may be best. However, if you or your aging senior are low-mobility, a mellow, small dog or a cat may be the better choice. 

The age of the pet is another important factor to consider. Puppies and kittens tend to be very high-energy and require a lot of patience and training. An older pet could be a better choice for seniors as they require less training and are usually already litter box or house trained. 

The needs and amount of care a pet needs is another factor to think about before adopting a pet. Consider how much daily care you or your loved one can realistically give a pet. A lower-involvement pet such as a bird or a fish may be better for low-energy individuals. 


Looking for a caregiver for you or a loved one? 

Our Flourish in Place caregivers are dedicated to helping aging adults with everyday activities while enjoying the freedom to be themselves in the comfort of their own home.

Our trained caregivers can assist with a variety of needs including personal care, dementia care, cooking and serving nutritious meals, and companionship.


To learn more please request your Free Consultation today


Sources: 

1: National Poll on Healthy Aging | How Pets Contribute to Healthy Aging 

2: American Heart Association Journal | Pet Ownership and Cardiovascular Risk 

3: ASPCA | Pet Care Costs 

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