Seniors and Pets

 

This post was provided to Pet Guardian Angels of America by Noah Rue

Things to Consider Before Giving a Senior a Pet

Animals love unconditionally. Dogs will give you a nuzzle and cats will purr at your touch no
matter how your day was. That type of love tends to leave animal lovers feeling warm and fuzzy.
That feeling is just one of positive effects we get from animal ownership, and it’s great for our
mental and physical health regardless of age. For seniors, those positive effects can be even
more important.

However, before giving a senior a pet, it’s important to remember to ask them first. A pet is a
large responsibility, not a gift. It’s also important to find the right pet for them, and make plans to
ensure the pet is getting everything it needs. If a senior in your life would like a pet, there are
plenty of pets that may be the perfect companion for their lifestyle.

The Positive Effects of Pets for Seniors

A pet is more than just a fluffy roommate who needs love and food; they also provide
companionship that can help a person’s physical and emotional health. Many seniors
experience troubles in both of these areas for a variety of reasons. Fortunately, having a pet has
positive effects for a senior’s overall health.

  • Physical health: Many pets encourage a person to be more active. Dogs, for instance,
    may need a walk or time in the park. This helps owners to move around and get out of
    the house more often. Additionally, pet owners tend to have lower blood pressure and
    stress levels .
  • Mental health: Seniors can often feel lonely or isolated, which can be detrimental to
    their mental health. Pets can help in this regard by offering steady companionship and
    unconditional love. This can also help symptoms of depression and anxiety.

Asking First

Pets are a great option to help seniors feel happier and healthier, but it’s still important to talk to
a person before giving them an animal. The truth is, many people aren’t animal people. Some
will find that a pet causes more stress than happiness. Though pets are great companions,
you’re also giving that person a gift that will cost them each month. On average, the first year of
owning a dog costs $1,270, and the first year of owning a cat costs $1,070
. Finances can be
difficult for everyone, but for a senior, budgeting can be even tighter.

They are also a big responsibility and require a lot of work. Some seniors may not be interested
in the added chores that may make them tired or hurt their bodies to perform. Walking a dog or
bending over to clean a cat box isn’t for everyone. Some seniors may prefer to visit with an
animal rather than own one, and that’s okay. Before you give them an animal, make sure they
agree that it’s the right decision for them.

Finding the Right Pet

Finding the right pet is paramount in pet ownership. Birds, fish, reptiles, small mammals, cats,
and dogs are all amazing in their own way, but each one carries a different type of responsibility.
Smaller or caged animals may seem easier, but they still require cage cleaning and
socialization. Cats are rather self-sufficient, but still need a clean litter box, feedings, and
companionship. Big dogs require more exercise, and small dogs still need some sort of activity
and mental stimulation. Make sure you’re picking the right type of animal for the amount of
responsibility the owner can realistically accomplish.

When finding the right dog, be sure you’re knowledgeable about their breed and their needs.
Though aggression is often a learned trait, it’s still helpful to know which breeds may be more
prone to aggression issues
and how to train them if it’s a problem. In addition to that, young
puppies or kittens are a lot more work and may be more difficult for a senior to take care of.
Calmer breeds who are older may be a better fit than an energetic breed who is younger.

Keeping the Animal Safe and Happy

Be sure you’re not only considering how the senior in your life will be with a pet, but also how
the pet will be taken care of. Be sure you’re taking steps to ensure the pet is healthy, has it’s
shots, and that the senior in your life is able to care for all of their needs. Make plans for the pet
if something happens to their senior parent so that they aren’t sent to a shelter if they outlive
them.

Being a responsible pet owner means understanding that a pet is a privilege, knowing that pet
ownership can be hard at times, keeping them healthy, keeping them safe, and treating them
like they are a part of the family. If the senior in your life is unable to provide these things,
having a pet is not right for them.

Senior-for-Senior Animal Adoption

If you’ve decided that a pet is the right thing for the senior in your life, consider the idea of
senior-for-senior animal adoption. Many shelters offer a discount for seniors to adopt a senior
animal as a companion. Many older pets are looked over because of their age, but in truth,
senior pets are often the perfect animals. They are content to lay with you, they tend to be better
behaved than younger pets, and you know exactly what temperament you’re going to get. Not
only does the senior in your life get the emotional benefits of having a pet , they are also saving the life of a senior animal as well.

There are plenty of things to consider before giving a senior a pet. While having an animal can
help them to be happier and healthier, it’s also important to ask them first. After they’ve agreed,
you can help them find the right pet for them, help them to keep the animal safe and happy, and
maybe even help them find a senior animal for them to adopt. At the end of the day, it can help
them tremendously to have an animal who depends on them and loves them unconditionally. In
return, they will get wet nose kisses and whisker purrs as a thank you.

Noah Yarnol Rue is always looking where his next trip will take him . When he’s not traveling the world, he’s writing articles on the new things he learns. Noah also enjoys a good meme from time to time. You can find Noah on LinkedIn.