Seniors and Pets

Up front, I am not a pet owner. Sure, I had pets when I was a kid. My kids had pets growing up. But when I no longer had my children living with me I was relieved to leave pet ownership behind. So, when it came time to write this month’s blog, I was not really excited.

I started my research with the premise that pets aren’t for every senior. I googled the topic why not to have a pet in your senior years. Of course, what I found was that most articles suggest it is a good idea.

However, there were some caveats. AgingInPlace.org had this to say.

“For those seniors who want a dog, there are many reasons to be wary of jumping into pet adoption too quickly. The lack of mobility and inability to drive to and from the vet, groomer, or pet store worries them. The initial costs are usually high. They also worry that if and when there comes a point when they can no longer care for the dog, that the dog might be taken to a shelter and eventually euthanized. Many seniors feel like their worsening health condition is a burden, and a pet might possibly add to that.”

But, they also listed six good reasons for seniors to care for pets. Some of the obvious:

  • Companionship
  • Exercise
  • Calmness
  • Purpose
  • Security
  • Socialization

While most of these truly are no brainers, they are good reasons for a senior to become a pet owner even if for the first time. CLICK HERE for more information. 

That is not to say that all of the research was positive. This article at mercola.com lists some of the potential hazards of pet ownership, especially for seniors in poor health caring for aging pets.

“Caring for an aging animal can take an emotional toll; in one survey of pet owners, there was greater burden, stress and symptoms of depression and anxiety, as well as poorer quality of life, in owners of pets with chronic or terminal disease.”

Now, let’s look at the practical issues of pet ownership. If or when a senior needs to move to a location with a higher level of care, it is not always possible to take their pet. But, according to nextavenue.org, 75% of for-profit senior living facilities do allow pet owners to bring their pet with them. CLICK HERE to read more on finding pet friendly retirement communities. 

Here are some things to keep in mind if you choose to take your pet along for the move.

  • Is there enough room?
  • What types of pets are allowed?
  • Are veterinary services available?
  • Is there a pet deposit, or monthly fees associated with pet ownership?

In the long run, to have or have not is always up to you. Weigh the benefits as well as the costs, and make the right decision for you and your lifestyle. And if you decide that it is right for you, after55.com recommends the following… small dog breeds for seniors include:

Shih Tzu

Pug

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Boston Terrier

Miniature Schnauzer

Poodle

Maltese

Bolognese

Yorkshire Terrier

Pekingese

As always, your local humane society or animal shelter is happy to help!

Susan Scholz, Partner

Golden Bridges