A man sitting with a dog on a rock ledge.

Why You Should Adopt a Furry Friend During Retirement

What Are the Best Pets for Seniors?

Getting older can be lonely. Our families have busy lives they need to attend to and loved ones and friends may no longer be close by. It can also become difficult to leave the home and take part in activities that you used to love. But there is a source of both comfort and companionship that brings so many benefits and that is pets for seniors.

The Benefits of Pet Ownership for Seniors

Health Benefits

Did you know that dogs are quite good for your heart? The American Journal of Cardiology published research that showed heart attack patients who were released from the hospital had a much higher rate of survival if they were a pet owner. They concluded that stress is reduced when there is a bond between humans and dogs and that in turn this relationship can reduce the risk of cardiovascular problems.

Not to be left out, researchers have also identified that cat owners tend to have lower blood pressure when compared to non-cat owners. They think it is due to a cat’s ability to have a very calming presence.

How about a fish? Well, they also come with their health benefits. Scientists found that when we watch fish in an aquarium, our heart rate reduces between five to beats per minute.

Mental Health Benefits

It's not only our physical health that benefits through pet ownership, but our mental health is also given a boost. The companionship that comes from having a pet is well-known as a great way to reduce anxiety and stress.

Not only are pets a great source of comfort, but they can also motivate us to be more active and to have purpose through routine and responsibilities. There's no lying in bed when your dog needs to go out, or your cat is demanding their breakfast!

Walking a dog can also make us more sociable. It's likely that you will see the same people exercising their pets each day, which can then make it easier to stop and chat. Those conversations with other dog owners help us to stay connected and less withdrawn. Many studies have now shown that those who have good relationships with others tend to be happier, have fewer health problems and live longer.

What Type of Pet to Choose

There's no doubt that dogs make wonderful pets who are loyal and loving companions. However, they do require daily walking no matter the weather. Pups are incredibly cute and fun-loving, but they can also be exhausting! Rescue centers are often full of older dogs who have passed the chewing stage and who, through no fault of their own, need a new loving home.

Cats are generally much easier to care for than dogs. While they have a reputation for being independent, cats are actually very loving, which makes them excellent company in the home.

Fish are an excellent option for a pet that requires minimal attention on a day to day basis, but which can still provide great enjoyment. Aim for smaller tanks so that there is less physical work needed for water changes and cleaning.

Things to Consider Before a Pet Joins Your Home

If you are considering a cat or dog, take time to meet the pet in advance. Make sure you bond, and that this is the right one for you; this is not a decision that should be rushed. Visit more than once to provide you with some thinking time away from the tempting cuteness.

Also, ensure that you have considered in advance what you can manage in terms of activity level and then stick firmly to pets whose needs you can meet without concern. Don't be tempted by that cute Border Collie puppy if you prefer a more sedentary lifestyle.

When adopting a pet from a rescue center, do ask what support is in place if you should have any questions or problems post-adoption. Another thing think about are the costs involved in having a companion pet. There will be ongoing expenses for food and vet visits. This goes hand in hand with making sure your living situation allows you to have a pet. If you own your home, is your yard securely fenced? If you rent, does the landlord allow animals?

It’s important to think about the level of your physical ability when it comes to pets for seniors. Are you able to bend over to clean litter boxes, pick up the yard, set out freshwater? There is a whole range of tools that can help you with these kinds of tasks, but they do need planning for in advance. Do have a plan in place for a caregiver should you be away from home for extended periods, such as medical emergencies or travel.

In Conclusion

Full-time pets for seniors is not always the best option for every senior. However, by helping out at your local rescue center or shelter, it is possible to get some of the fantastic benefits while not having all the responsibility. Many organizations really appreciate having volunteers who can provide needed one on one attention for their animals while they wait for their forever home.