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Pets and Seniors

Updated on January 14, 2014

Benefits of Pets for Seniors

Pets are a big part of our lives and families, and are great company for animal lovers, especially those living alone. Research has shown that pets are not just for lonely or depressed people, but everyone, this includes the elderly. Older people are usually more suited to an older, house trained, calmer pet. On good choice than many older folks may opt for is adopting or rescuing a pet.

Many people in the geriatric population live alone, or with a living spouse. Many are limited to their activity due to health reasons or because of lack of transportation for those who no longer drive. The presence of a pet for an elderly person has more advantages than just companionship, they also help improve the quality of one's health, as well as increase longevity and quality of life.

The benefits for older people who choose to take care of a pet include: fewer doctor visits, lower blood pressure and pulse rate, decreased loneliness, less depression, enhanced social opportunities, and pets offer seniors a sense of security. Seniors tend to take better care of themselves because they know that the pet they love depends on them. 

Caring for the Pet

Many elderly people may choose not to have a pet for fear of not being able to properly care for an animal. Many things need to be considered before choosing an appropriate pet for a parent, grandparent, or even yourself. Dogs may be more suited to the more active older adult whereas cats require less energy and are easier for someone with physical disabilities such as rheumatoid arthritis to care for.

Sometimes just getting pet food or routine medications can pose a problem for many older adults who may no longer drive. Many services are available that provide home delivery of pet medications, pet food, dog & cat toys & treats, and various other things for all kinds of pets.

Pets for the Elderly Foundation

The Pets for the Elderly Foundation helps pay the fees to animal shelters across the United States for pre-adoption veterinary exams and spay/neuter charges if is part of the adoption fee. The program is available to seniors age 60 and older who adopt a pet through the program.

The Pets for the Elderly Foundation placed over 6,500 animals this past year alone. There are 58 shelters in 30 states that participate with the Pets for the Elderly Foundation.

Top Breed Choices for Seniors

Cocker Spaniel

A popular pick among dog lovers, they also make great picks for seniors with their patient and docile personalities. They don't need a lot of exercise, just a little walk daily is sufficient since they are not high strung or outgoing by nature.


These dogs weigh on average around 5 lbs. and are 6-9 inches tall, but don't let their size fool you, they come with a very big bark. Seniors who live alone make great owners of these protective little "burglar alarms" by warning owners of anything unusual.

Shih tzu

Friendly and gentle dogs, Shih tzus live for human companionship. They are very protective of their owner and surroundings. These sweet animals are also very in tune to what's going on around them.


Pomeranians make cheerful companions with their perky attitudes and cute fuzzy bear appearance. They originally came from Pomerania, Germany and tend to be sturdy, healthy dogs. They are also a good choice for those who live alone as they tend to bark defensively in response to any outside noise.

Boston Terrier

Boston Terriers have a protective instinct, yet they are also friendly and mellow. They are highly intelligent animals who make wonderful companions.

Yorkshire Terrier

This tiny little ball of fire can get all the exercise he needs running around the house, but just as full of energy as they are, they also love to curl up in their master's lap. Another great lap dog who enjoys lounging around in a quiet area.


Pugs are small dogs with big hearts who desire attention and affection from their owners. Pugs may thrive off of attention, yet they are more than willing to give plenty of it back. They are also sturdy, healthy dogs that are good burglar alarms with a defensive bark.

These are only a few of the many choices in good companion dogs for senior citizens. Small dogs with mild temperaments toward their owners are generally the best choices for a companion for the older adult. Make sure to study the breed characteristics of any dog before choosing them for an elderly owner. Take into consideration the physical and/or mental restrictions or limitations before choosing any animal.

Funny Cute Animals


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    • AshrafAli123 profile image

      AshrafAli123 5 years ago from Calcutta, India

      nice sharing.

    • profile image

      Kathy Holmes 5 years ago

      Very nice share!

      I am a big pet lover. The way you have shared the elderly care ion your hub,through pets is really appreciable. :)

    • scarlton profile image

      scarlton 6 years ago from Boonville, NC

      I am glad you enjoyed the article, Halcyon Days, and thank you for your input. Thanks for reading!

    • Halcyon Days profile image

      Halcyon Days 6 years ago from Seattle, Washington

      I really enjoyed your article, though I must take issue with two breed choices for the elderly. I have owned 5 Cocker Spaniels, and currently own a Boston Terrier as well. I can tell you from great experience that Cocker Spaniels are not easy to care for, although they have great personalities that can be uncovered with patience, diligence, and a commitment to regular exercise. They also require extensive grooming, which all owners should be aware of.

      As for Boston's, they are awesomely cute and very fun dogs. Please be aware that they are also high energy dogs and would not be suitable for an older person who is not active, if only to throw the ball for an hour every day. Otherwise, I loved your article! BTW, Cavalier Spaniels are absolute LOVE BUCKETS! I would choose a Cav before a Cocker for the elderly any day!

    • scarlton profile image

      scarlton 6 years ago from Boonville, NC

      I'm glad you enjoyed it, Maralexa, thank you for reading. I actually work in a nursing home that has a few live-in pets and the resident's really enjoy them.

    • Maralexa profile image

      Marilyn Alexander 6 years ago from Vancouver, Canada and San Jose del Cabo, Mexico

      This is not an after-thought. Congratulations on earning the award for 100,000 hub views!

    • Maralexa profile image

      Marilyn Alexander 6 years ago from Vancouver, Canada and San Jose del Cabo, Mexico

      Thank you so much for this hub, scarlton! It is soooo true that seniors fair so much better when they can have (an appropriate) pet to care for. This was well-written, full of great information, and so cute. Up and awesome.

    • mojefballa profile image

      Ikeji Chinweuba 6 years ago from Nigeria

      Nice hub.Best for those who are in love with pets and it has the proper info for their usage.