Perfect Pets for Seniors

February 10, 2016

Choosing and preparing for a new pet

We have already talked about the benefits of seniors having pets. If you decide that a pet will benefit you or your elderly loved one‚ here are some things to consider when choosing the right pet.

Health of pet owner:

Make sure you check if you have allergies to any particular animals. There are hypoallergenic pets available‚ including some dog breeds and certain hairless cats‚ but keep in mind that even those breeds can affect people with severe allergies. Try and spend time with the type of animal you are interested in getting before you take one home just to make sure you are not allergic. Also make sure you will be physically able to care for a pet‚ and choose a pet that fits your physical abilities.

Puppies and Kittens

Even though they are extremely cute‚ kittens and‚ more so‚ puppies are a lot of work.  They require constant attention and often a lot of chasing and bending over for training or cleaning up after until they are house trained. They have a lot of energy and it can be hard for even the healthiest person to keep up with. For seniors we would suggest an adult pet‚ who is already trained and has grown out of their energetic stage.

Maintenance

Cats are pretty easy pets to have‚ as they don’t require going outside for walks‚ and the clean up is contained in the litter box.  If you want a pet to help keep you active then a dog is a better choice. Remember that the bigger the dog‚ the bigger the clean up. Responsible dog owners will need to clean up after their pet when out for walks.  Larger dogs will require more grooming and often you will need to vacuum more often to keep up with the pet hair‚ depending on the breed. Choose a pet that you are prepared to care for. 

Cost

There are initial costs involved in preparing your home for a pet‚ including food and water dishes‚ leashes and collars‚ toys‚ beds‚ and litter boxes for cats‚ and pet brushes. If you haven’t visited a pet store in 10 years‚ you will be shocked at what is available now‚ including a lot of novelty stuff that isn’t necessary.  Make sure you have everything they will need for the first while‚ before you bring them home. You should also get them microchipped and if they are still young‚ you should consider the cost of spaying or neutering them.  The ongoing costs include food‚ treats‚ veterinary bills for check ups and emergencies or pet insurance‚ grooming if you have a breed that requires professional services‚ and cat litter for cats. Make sure you have money in your monthly budget to cover these costs.

Life span of pet

This is often a difficult thing to talk about‚ but when seniors get pets‚ depending on your age and overall health‚ it is possible the pet may out live you. Especially cats who can live as long as 20 years or more.  It’s important to make plans just in case. Don’t assume someone will take care of your pet.  Talk to a family member and make sure your pet will have a home to go to if you should pass before they do‚ or else your beloved pet may end up at the animal shelter. 

Energy level

Some pets are more energetic‚ and require more walks and time and space to run. You should research the breeds that you are looking at and make sure you choose a pet with an energy level that fits with your current lifestyle. Some people make the mistake of getting a high energy dog‚ thinking it will motivate them to be more active. That is often not realistic in the long run‚ and the dog will have behavioral problems if it’s not getting out for a walk as much as it needs. Also‚ don’t assume that dog size is an indicator of the energy levels.  There are some large breeds that are pretty lazy‚ and small breeds that are very energetic. Ask for help if you need it. Even a twelve year old child can take a dog for a walk‚ so ask your grandchildren or neighbors. 

 


Training

If you haven’t had a pet before or for a long time‚ it’s best to do some research about animal health‚ how to know if your pet is sick‚ what the exercise and feeding requirements are for the pets best health‚ training tricks and tips‚ and grooming techniques. Check reliable sources online‚ talk to your vet or visit the book store. There are a lot of books available now.  You want to make sure your pets are well behaved and that you can control them. 

Love

Be prepared to love your pet. They offer unconditional love and you should do the same.  If you take the time to find the right pet for you‚ your furry companion will be your best friend for years to come.

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