- Right pet for the right owner. But because people age so differently, the decision needs to be made carefully and not just by grown loving children who think it sounds like a way to provide camaraderie. Because there’s no single right pet, ask the following questions to help narrow the field.
- Are you set in your ways? If you don’t like change, you may not be a good candidate
- Have you had a pet before? I thinks its best if the elderly person is an experienced owner.
Do you have disabilities? Dogs can be wonderful companions who encourage a senior with no major physical limitations to walk and interact with others . For those who are physically challenged, cats often need less care than dogs, she says. A small dog that’s paper-trained or an indoor bird is also sometimes preferable.
- Do you need a therapy pet? If the person is very infirm or impaired, they may be a candidate for an assistance or therapy dog to help them function or interact.
- Is the pet the right age? A puppy or kitten may not be the best choice for elderly owners because of the care they require. A young pet may outlive its owner. Birds especially have long life spans. Yet, it’s also important that the pet isn’t too old since it may start to have physical limitations and get sick cautions.
- Does the pet have a good temperament? Although some older owners may think a Great Pyrenees would be too big to handle. Many older people might think they’d do better with a Jack Russell terrier because it’s small but they are very, very, very high energy and require more effort and commitment. So much depends on personality.
- Is the pet healthy? It’s important that any pet be examined by a professional. You don’t want to compromise an older person’s immune system since some pets carry diseases.
- One pet or two? While multiple pets can keep each other company, that may not be a good idea for an older person. Two puppies may bond with each other rather than with the owner.
- Are finances an issue? Pets cost money. A small puppy can run more than $810 its first year for food, medical care, toys and grooming while a fish is less expensive–about $235, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. If the pet takes ill, dollars snowball. Groups are available to help allay costs.
Where to find the pet. While breeders are a good source, some shelters also provide a pet for less and offer the advantage of rescuing it from euthanasia. Purina Pets for Seniors partners with 200 shelters nationwide to provide seniors pet adoptions at a reduced cost.