How to Choose the Best Pet for a Senior Loved One

At Renaissance, our home care providers have witnessed just how much having a pet enhances the lives and joy of our home care recipients. If you are looking for a pet for your elderly loved one, there are a few things to consider to ensure both the senior and the pet remain happy and healthy together. From what kind of pet to the age of a pet, many factors play into what will make a great companion for your loved one.

How to Choose a Senior-Friendly Pet

Animals have all sorts of personalities and quirks just as humans! The best pets for seniors have personalities that complement their owner’s and do not require constant attention. For many, this means taking a look at the energy level of a senior, as well as their ability to care for another being. Here are a few things to consider:

Personality – If your loved one is mellow, having a pet that likes to simply hang out and relax on the couch may be best. That doesn’t mean the pet shouldn’t have any energy. The pet’s desire to play may be contagious, after all!

Age of Animal-

  • Puppies and kittens are bundles of frenetic energy that require more care than adult dogs and cats. While they’re certainly adorable, some may need special diets or even supplementary house or litter box training. Because of these extra needs, they may not be ideal for older seniors.
  • An animal’s personality is pretty much established by the time it is an adult and the diet has stabilized, meaning this is usually the most appropriate age for a senior owner.
  • Aging pets may require medical attention and frequent vet visits, which can be challenging for senior owners. The vet bills can also become quite costly.

Type of Animal

  • Cats: Generally low maintenance pets, cats use a litter box and groom themselves, so they don’t need many baths. They do need scratching posts and regular claw trimming, however. Breeds like Rag Dolls and Persians tend to be more mellow than other breeds, such as Siamese cats – and less vocal.
  • Birds: The most common pet birds to have are canaries, cockatiels, and budgies. It is important to know that owners or a caregiver will have to clean cages regularly, as well as whatever bird droppings are around when the bird may fly around the home. While to some, some birds do make pleasant sounds, for others their chipping and chatter can be considered annoying.
  • Fish: Fish do require a large setup at the offset. New tanks, tank accessories, and pumps can add up in terms of cost, and they need regular maintenance. However, once set up, fish can be incredibly relaxing to watch, though if a senior is looking for more interaction, fish may not be the best option.
  • Dogs: Dogs tend to be very popular and often make the best companions for seniors looking for an interactive companion. Depending on the breed, they may require daily walks and some need to be groomed regularly.

Best Dog Breeds for Older Adults

The best dog for an elderly couple that loves being outdoors may not be the best dog for a senior widow who has dementia and spends a lot of time at home. Here are some of the best dog breeds for seniors.

  • Pugs are adorable and charming and don’t need a lot of exercise. Their small size and incredible affection make them very popular companion dogs.
  • Poodles have hypo-allergenic coats that require regular grooming, but they are one of the most intelligent and easy-to-train breeds.
  • Boston Terriers are great lap dogs that don’t require much exercise beyond a little house play and a daily short walk.

Other Great Companion Dogs for Seniors

These general observations about dog breeds can help guide your search, but you and your loved ones should meet and interact with the animal before making the final decision to take it home. Contact us if you have any questions – we’d be delighted to offer assistance in choosing just the right furry friend for your loved one!