Often, the elderly choose not to have a pet because they are afraid they won’t be able to manage the daily care and grooming and what will happen to the dog when they are gone. Age should not discredit being a pet parent. However, you need to approach the issue wisely and think through all aspects. The most important thing is to consider how the senior feels physically and mentally, whether they can provide for the dog’s basic needs, remember to feed and care for the dog, etc.
Dog parenthood by the elderly brings many health benefits to the caregiver. Neuroscientists have confirmed that older people who take care of a pet are likely to live healthier and longer lives. They are proven to be less prone to nervous system diseases, plus having a pet makes the brain aging process slower.
What Kind of Dog For a Senior?
It is not the best idea to get a puppy for an older adult. A young dog requires much more activity and work from the caregiver. A puppy needs to be taken out to potty frequently, given a lot of playtime,s and taught to interact appropriately with people. In addition, an elderly person may not have as much strength to take care of a frantic pup.
A better choice would be to adopt an older dog with a teenage stage behind them. The majority of adult dogs have already been taught certain things and are much calmer. However, it would help if you remembered that by adopting a shelter dog with unknown past experiences, you do not know how the dog will behave at home. But it is worth talking to volunteers who know the best dog to help choose the right companion.
In addition to the dog’s age, you need to consider the pet’s character. We do not recommend breeds from working dogs such as shepherds, Labradors, and hounds, which often remain active until old age and require work with men. For seniors, a better choice will be relatively small dog breeds (e.g. Shih-Tzu, Maltese, mop, Yorkshire terrier). These dogs do not require a lot of activity, and in case of health problems, they are easier to take care of for the older person. A small dog also reduces the risk of dangerous leash pulls, resulting in serious injury. However, it does not mean that the mentioned breeds do not require walks and playtime during the day.
Benefits of Seniors Having a Dog
There are many advantages of an elderly person having a dog, among them:
dogs provide emotional support, especially for those who live alone;
maintaining physical fitness;
reducing the risk of depression;
reducing cholesterol levels;
short walks with a dog can reduce anxiety and stress;
cuddling or petting a dog is effective in lowering blood pressure and heart rate;
A recent European Journal of Medical Research study revealed that older dog caregivers exercise more frequently than their peers without pets. People with dogs are also less likely to complain of various types of pain.
However, it is essential to remember that an elderly person may have days when they are unable to take care of their pet. Therefore, it is good to have a family member available to help with daily pet care in these situations.
Additionally, it is crucial that the decision to have a dog is mutual and that the dog is not an unannounced gift from the family. Finally, seniors should decide if they want to take on pet care.
In conclusion, dogs and the elderly can make a good duo. Still, the selection of a dog should be well thought out, primarily in terms of the age and dog’s personality and the pet’s parents’ mental and physical condition. Although older dogs or specific breeds may be less problematic, it doesn’t mean that they don’t require attention. Every dog should be provided with food, an appropriate amount of walks to meet their physiological needs, as well as other needs such as playing, sniffing, chewing, and mental stimulation.