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The Best Companion Pets for Seniors

dogs are one of the best companion pets for seniors

Pets offer comfort and can instill a sense of purpose in their owners, making pet ownership a great option for senior citizens. When you need someone who is always going to be at your side, you can depend on your pet to be there for you.
If you think about it, who do we turn to when we need a snuggle or a little unconditional love? Who is always there by our side no matter what we do or what happens in our lives?
There are many types of companion pets for seniors that want nothing more from us than our time and affection. And in return, they don’t just give us companionship …they might make our lives better in all sorts of other ways.

The Benefits of Pets for Seniors

According to one long-running study, dog owners have a lower risk of heart disease. Maybe that’s because petting a pooch has a calming, meditative effect on our minds.
In fact, according to Marwan Sabbagh, MD, Director of Cleveland Clinic’s Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health, “Simply petting an animal can decrease the level of the stress hormone cortisol and boost the release of serotonin.”
The result? Lowered blood pressure and heart rate and, possibly, elevated mood.
Or perhaps dog owners are at lower risk for heart disease simply because having a dog generally means you have a walking routine, so you’re exercising more than you might if you were on your own.
As we age, walking is one of the best forms of exercise. Older adults benefit from walking because It’s low impact and works several muscle groups. Plus, it gets us out in the fresh air. And if you have a canine companion by your side, it often leads to increased social interaction and reduced loneliness as well.

Choosing the right pet for you.

senior woman snuggling with her dog

Perhaps you live in or are considering a move to a pet-friendly independent senior living community. How do you choose the right companion? Well, first let’s talk about the types of pets you may be looking for.
Birds, rodents, lizards, snakes and other caged creatures are certainly options to consider, and most would be accepted in a pet-friendly independent living community. However, when it comes to companionship, sometimes a cage can get in the way.
What about our feline friends? Owners know that while cats may seem aloof and enjoy time away to do their own thing (like napping, hunting, napping, eating, or napping), they can be just as cuddly as dogs and are generally attuned to our moods.
So yes! Cats make great companions in any pet-friendly independent senior living environment. In fact, adopting a cat is a wonderful way to go. Most shelters are filled with felines who may have some years on them but still have a lot of life and a lot of love to give. Sound familiar?

Four things to consider when choosing a dog.

Now let’s talk about dogs. Just because a community is pet-friendly doesn’t mean you should expect Clifford the Big Red Dog to be welcomed by the neighbors. Large breeds aren’t necessarily forbidden at pet-friendly independent senior living communities, but you should check with the community to find out their rules and restrictions.
Let’s look at four things to consider about our four-legged friends:

1. Size

As mentioned above, most senior living communities have rules about the maximum size of your pet. These are generally in the form of weight limits. Even if larger breeds are acceptable, you should think carefully about the long-term needs of these pets as well as your own needs as you age.

2. Spunkiness

If we’re looking at smaller breeds, it’s important to understand how active your new bff (best fur friend) will be. Some dogs love to cuddle and enjoy an occasional walk about, while others – say a Jack Russell Terrier – have a great deal of energy and can get into mischief when they don’t get enough exercise. Are you looking for a cuddly canine or a peppy pooch?

3. Care

You’re most likely looking for a canine companion to meet your needs, but what about the needs of your new pet? You should consider the time and effort you’ll need to take to bathe, brush and walk your dog, plus get them to regular vet visits. Just like senior living communities, some pets require more maintenance than others.

4. Age

Before you set your sights on an adorable puppy, think about the extra care such a young pup requires. Do you have the energy to go through the training and the patience to embrace the inevitable potty mistakes and chewing issues?

Best Pets for Seniors

beagle running through the field

There are many breeds that make great pets. Instead of listing the hundreds of small and medium breeds you can choose from, we’ve chosen our ten favorites.

1. Beagle

If you’re the active, outdoorsy type, perhaps a beagle is right for you. Beagles are energetic and very sociable. They love to play and are friendly and fun companions.

2. Bichon Frise

This breed is extremely intelligent, obedient and affectionate. They love to snuggle and are generally content to spend the day chilling out inside, preferably in your lap.

3. Boston Terrier

Boston terriers make for mild-mannered companions. They’re easily trained and don’t bark much. Their favorite activity is enjoying the company of their owners.

4. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

These sweet-tempered little dogs live to please. They’re content with an easy walk and plenty of relaxation time. If that sounds like your speed, this may be the breed for you.

5. Golden Retriever

Golden retrievers are attuned to the emotions of their people and love to please. They’re easy to train, and though they’re bigger and enjoy activity, they make wonderful senior companions.

happy golden retriever inside

6. Maltese

These tiny dogs love laps. They’re smart, gentle, playful and ready to cuddle. They’re also very tuned in to their owner’s moods. They love short walks and zooming around the house.

7. Miniature Schnauzer

Schnauzers are energetic and playful. They’re devoted, protective companions and make excellent little watchdogs. They’re also obedient and eager to please.

8. Pomeranian

These small companion dogs are lively, curious and affectionate. And boy, do they love attention. They’re great for someone who has a lot of time and energy to play.

9. Scottish Terrier

Scotties are a bundle of personality and energy. They enjoy a good walk and love to fetch. If you’re active, this smart dog will make a fine sidekick.

10. Shih Tzu

If you want a dog that is always at your side, choose a Shih Tzu. They live for cuddles and are wonderful lap dogs who welcome anyone as long as they offer a pet and a kind word.

Join our pet-friendly independent senior living communities.

Want to know more about Presbyterian Homes’ pet-friendly senior living communities? Come take a personal tour and see how The Moorings of Arlington Heights could be the right choice for you and your best friend!