6 Things to Consider Before Getting Your Elderly Loved One a Pet

Famed American actor Robert Wagner hit the nail on the head when he said, “Pets have more love and compassion in them than most humans.” In addition to their unconditional love and compassion, their loyalty, undying gratitude and cuddly nature are key reasons why pets make great companions for people of all ages. Especially the elderly.

In fact, pets not only help seniors with loneliness and depression, a study conducted in Australia found that senior citizen pet owners had “significantly lower triglyceride and cholesterol levels, as well as lower systolic blood pressure readings than non-pet owners.”

We love animals of all kinds, but dogs hold a special place in our heart. After all, they are “man’s best friend”, and we personally take that to mean all of humankind, not just men.

Since July is host to one of the two annual National Mutt Days, we thought it would be a good time to discuss pets and how to find the best dog for your elderly loved one.

So, what is National Mutt Day?
National Mutt Day was founded by Animal Welfare Advocate Colleen Paige in 2005 to encourage the American population to “embrace, save and celebrate mixed breed dogs.” As mentioned earlier, National Mutt Day is celebrated twice a year on July 31 and December 2. On these days, celebrators are urged to visit dog rescue shelters and adopt a mutt, or at the very least volunteer their time.

Now that you have an idea of what National Mutt Day is. Let’s explore some things you need to consider when picking a pet for your elderly loved one:

Breed
To be honest, unless you have very specific needs for your pet i.e. service animal, hunting, competition, etc., the breed of animal does not really matter. Animals, just like humans, all have unique personalities. Instead of looking for a specific breed, we suggest looking for an animal that best aligns with your elderly loved one’s needs and personality.

Animal Age
Considering the animal’s age and level of training is important. A puppy or young animal may be full of energy and lack house training. For an elderly loved one, having a young animal could do more harm than good. On the opposite end of the spectrum are senior animals. This could be a great option for your loved one, but you will want to make sure they are healthy and will not cost your loved one excessive vet bills.

Elderly Loved One’s Energy Level
You will want to consider your elderly loved one’s average energy level when choosing a pet. If they enjoy being on the go and going for walks, hikes and spending time outdoors then a dog with a moderate energy level will be perfect for them. However, if they have a more sedentary lifestyle then you will want to find an animal that enjoys relaxing for long periods of time.

What are the grooming/health needs
When finding an animal you will want to consider what the grooming and health needs are for that particular breed. Since elderly loved ones are typically on a fixed income, having an animal that requires regular grooming or vet visits would not be a good choice.

Training Level
We touched on this a little bit in our age section. You will need to know what the animals training level is. Have they been house trained, kennel trained, obedient, trained to refrain from jumping or chewing? What are their bad habits? Knowing all of this will help you make the best decision for your elderly loved one’s pet.

Finally, what is the succession plan?
No one really likes to talk about it, but it is important to consider what will happen to the pet if your elderly loved one dies or is hospitalized for any sort of time. Having a succession plan will help reduce your elderly loved one’s anxiety regarding it and will ensure the safety and needs of the pet are met.

As always, if you care for an elderly loved one and would like help developing a care plan of any kind please feel free to contact us. Wiser Home Care Services can help your family establish a care plan to personally accommodate your loved one’s needs.

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