Later in life, once children have grown, many first time pet-owners-to-be consider getting a furry companion. You’re not alone if you’re in this situation. There are so many different types of pets, it can be a challenge to choose the type of companion that will be a good fit in your home and for you personally.
The 3 Best Pets for Older Adults
There are many considerations to take into account when bringing a new doggo into the home. Many seniors like the idea of having a dog, especially if they have had one in the past. The questions to ask yourself when considering hosting a new dog in your home are:
- How active are you physically? Will you be able to take the dog on the type of walks and outdoor activities that they will need? (Puppies need much more activity than an older dog). Or would you be happier with a canine that loves to stay in your lap most of the time?
- Do you live alone and will you be caring for the dog by yourself? Will food shopping, feeding, watering, grooming and financially supporting the dog be a challenge for you?
- What kind of a space do you live in? If you’re aging at home, do you have a backyard or ample enough space for the breed that you are considering?
Once these questions have been pondered, you may decide that a smaller breed of dog is a wise choice. Smaller dog breeds such as the Welsh Corgi, the French Bulldog and the Chihuahua are all relatively low maintenance breeds. Other great choices, but with higher grooming requirements may be the Toy or Miniature Poodle, the West Highland White Terrier or the Shih Tzu. Many of these breeds are well suited from a personality standpoint to live in with a senior “parent”.
When considering adding a dog to your home, remember the demands placed on you by the pet. Age is a factor, of course. For example, a young puppy will have more physical demands placed upon the “parent”, while a middle-aged or senior dog will have a tendency to be more docile. Most breeds have an approximate life span of 12-15 years and taking this into account will also help you plan wisely.
Cats can be terrific companions for any individual (or couple) who doesn’t want the physical demand of a dog in their lives. Cats require much less daily maintenance and minimal set up in the home. Questions to ask yourself when considering a new kitty in your home are:
- Is anyone in the home allergic to cats? If so, all cats or only longhaired kitties?
- Will I worry about my furniture if I have a kitty with front claws? (There are adoption agencies that can help find you an already-declawed cat to give a home to).
- How much grooming am I willing to commit to? Short haired kitties have less grooming demands than long hairs and do not require constant brushing. Of course, financially supporting the needs of the kitty, including grooming, food and litter needs to be taken into account.
- Do I have an appropriate space to have a kitty litter box?
Many seniors decide that short haired breeds are best suited to their homes and require less maintenance and clean up around the home. The American Shorthair is one of the most common breeds and available in many color combinations. Russian Blue cats are even tempered and intelligent, albeit a little lazy (many people with “cat allergies” react less to having a Russian Blue in the home). British Shorthairs are also fairly docile and well behaved kitties, especially once they pass the kitten stage.
Always be sure to ask the adoption agency for a “reference” on the kitty’s personality or spend as much time with the kitty before making an adoption final. Just like people, kitties have different needs for affection; some are very affectionate and others are not. The more research you do on your pet-to-be’s personality before finalizing the adoption, the better for both of you in the long run.
Remember, indoor cats generally have a longer lifespan than dogs. The average indoor kitty can live from 13-18 years. Choosing a middle-aged kitty to be your companion may be a wise choice as they have left their crazy-kitten days behind them.
When most people think “pets”, they usually think dog or cat, but fish can be a wonderful option. Needing very little maintenance (only feeding and tank maintenance), they can provide stress reduction and assist in anxiety management.
There will be a cost to set up a smaller tank or large bowl, such as lighting, filters and food. But once set up, fish are financially inexpensive to home. They also will never cause you to trip, as a dog or cat might.
Some of the best ‘bowl or small tank’ fish for older adults are Bettas, Guppies and Tetras. Just be sure to get all the same sex, or you may have baby fishies in no time. Also, you’ll want to do some research on mixing different fish in the same tank. Just like people, certain types of fish don’t mix well with others when confined to a tiny space.
Having a furry (or scaly) companion in the home can have numerous benefits, both for physical health and mental wellbeing. Click this link for further information.