Many seniors struggle with social isolation and loneliness. While it’s still important to talk to friends and family as often as possible, either in person or on the phone, pets can offer a great option for fighting loneliness for many seniors. Pets give you something to focus on and care for, and they can offer puppy dog eyes or a cuddle every now and then. In this article, we’ll go over some of the best pets for seniors.
- Dogs are a classic choice as a pet for just about anyone. They are sweet and cuddly–truly man’s best friend. If you would like a dog but are struggling with the idea of caring for a larger breed, you may consider a small dog breed like a cavalier King Charles spaniel, Shih Tzu, or Maltese. These all make great pets, and they don’t need a big back yard to run around in. They are also small enough that you can walk them or pick them up without any issues. With dogs, you will have to house train them, and some breeds may require trips to a groomer. If you have a dog, you will likely have to deal with the noises of barking frequently too.
- Cats are another classic choice, and they are great if you don’t have the energy to regularly walk a dog but still want a warm, furry companion. Short-haired cats especially make great pets for seniors because they clean themselves and are quieter than a dog. Long-haired cats will require brushing or grooming, but they are still a little more low maintenance than dogs. While cats don’t need to be walked or go outside to use the bathroom, they will still need someone to clean their litter box occasionally. Cats do have unique personalities, and some can be more standoffish than others.
- Fish are one of the most low maintenance options for pets, provided you don’t have a large aquarium with multiple fish to care for. Betta fish are solitary fish, and they don’t need a large space. They are also colorful and can be fun to look at. Other freshwater fish can make good pet options as well, but make sure you choose a tank of less than 10 gallons. This will make water changes and cleaning much easier. You may also need some special lighting, filters, and of course regular feeding. However, taking care of a fish is very low maintenance, especially if you use an automated feeder.
- Leopard geckos are maybe not the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of a pet for seniors, but these and some other small reptiles can make great pets. They are another quiet, low maintenance alternative to fish. A leopard gecko needs very little once you have done the work of setting their enclosure up with the right lighting and accessories, and they live longer than most fish.
- Birds can be another fairly low maintenance pet option for seniors. They can offer a lot of noise if you’re tired of a quiet house, and they don’t have to be taken out of their cage much or at all, making them a good option if you have mobility issues. They will require daily feeding and water, and their cage will need to be cleaned at least once a week. With birds, it’s also important to remember that some species (the cockatoo for example) can live 60-80 years, while others live for just a few years. Do your research on which breed might be better for you.