Finding the perfect pet for senior living
Pug, Persian or Parakeet? Pet ownership is a rewarding experience that offers companionship and can positively impacts senior health. Choosing the right pet and adoption agency is the first step to finding your new best friend. Seniors and their loved ones should examine a pet's needs and level of care to ensure the furry or feathered friend is a good match for retirement lifestyle and senior housing.
Questions to ask before adopting a pet:
- Do you have the resources to pay for veterinary bills, grooming, food and supplies?
- Are you physically able to care for a pet? Do you need assistance with pet walking, feeding or veterinary transportation?
- Could your medical needs interfere with pets? (For instance, animals may chew on oxygen tubing or they can inadvertently be a tripping hazard.)
- Do you travel? If so, do you have someone to help care for the pet when you're gone?
- Is your current living arrangement animal-friendly? Will your living arrangement change in the near future?
If your heart is still set on an animal companion and you're already nodding along to these questions, be sure to weigh your options before visiting the nearest animal shelter. The benefits of having an animal can depend a lot on whether the pet matches your lifestyle. Selecting the right pet breed, age and temperament is essential.
What pets work best for seniors?
In general, small low-maintenance and lower-energy pets better align with a retirement lifestyle. Adult or senior pets are recommend since they typically have mellow temperaments, come with a complete medical history, have obedience training and require less monetary investment. It's important to remember small breeds and birds can live 15 to 20 years, so seniors must have someone who is willing to take responsibility for the pet if it outlives the owner.
Senior's checklist to selecting a pet:
- What is the life expectancy of the breed?
- How old will you be when the pet reaches its senior years?
- What are the physical needs and activity level of the breed?
- What specific grooming and training needs does the pet require?
- What size pet can your home accommodate?
- Can you travel comfortably with the pet?
- Will the pet interact comfortably with other people and animals in your current living arrangement?
Choose a dog breed that adapts to your lifestyle, physical surroundings and fitness level. Consider small “lap dogs” that are comfortable living mostly inside and require minimal outdoor exercise. Dog breeds to consider: Pomeranian, Shih Tzu and Pug.
Cats are typically low-maintenance pets that easily adapt to retirement lifestyles as they are comfortable living strictly indoors. Consider cats that only require 20 to 30 minutes of playtime or interaction per day. Cat breeds to consider: Birman or Ragdoll—which both resemble a long-haired versions of Siamese, and British shorthair.
Birds can be great senior companions as they are responsive, require little care and live strictly indoors. Consider a bird that makes minimal noise and has already been trained to return to its cage. Types of birds to consider: Canary, Parakeet and Zebra Finch.
Where to find a pet:
We recommend partnering with a local rescue shelter or adoption agency to find the right pet for senior living. National organizations such as the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) and The Humane Society of The United States can provide contact information to local chapters making a difference in your community. Some organizations may have adoption experts that specialize in pet placement for seniors.
Choosing a local shelter is good for the pet, too. Animal shelters are filled with older pets that need a home, as may people visit shelters in search of puppies or kittens. Adopting a senior furry friend is a great way to rescue a well-deserving animal that still has a lot of love to give!
Senior living pet resources
At Holiday Retirement, we understand how important pets are and their impact on senior health and lifestyles. That’s why most of our 300+ senior living communities offer pet-friendly amenities. Many of our communities are proud to provide residents with transportation to local ASPCA chapters to find the perfect companion.
Holiday Retirement's pet-friendly senior living options
Holiday Retirement Guide: Choosing the perfect pet for a senior