Terrific Tips for Pet Ownership During Your Golden Years

man with dog

Image courtesy of Pixabay

Adding a furry friend to your life during your golden years can be good for you.  With some planning and preparation, pet care and maintenance can be a breeze.  Here are some tips for finding the right pet and ensuring you’ll both be safe and happy.

Boon to your well-being.  Owning a pet as a senior can be a healthy addition to your life.  As Science Daily explains, seniors with pets tend to be more active, particularly dog owners.  Getting out for a stroll with your pooch can be a boon, improving your body mass index, reducing trips to doctors, increasing your exercise, and adding to your social life.  Some studies show pet ownership can lower your stress levels and reduce blood pressure, lowering your risk for stroke and heart disease.  Pets keep you living in the moment, distracting you from worries and focusing your attention, which is something many people in retirement miss from their working days.  U.S. News & World Report notes that a pet will provide routine and structure to your day as well. 

Setting aside concerns.  Many older adults are worried about adding a pet to their lives.  With age can come mobility issues, and some people worry about the length of time they can commit to a pet.  Some animal shelters will match older pets with older people in “seniors to seniors” programs, and some programs even waive adoption fees to seniors.  For those with very limited mobility, cats may be a good option.  However low mobility doesn’t need to be a deal-breaker for dog ownership.  Oftentimes small dogs require minimal amounts of exercise.  You can seek out a lazy dog breed which requires minimal activity, such as a pug, basset hound, or shih tzu.  Puppy pads can provide a potty place indoors, or if there are days when you can’t get around as well as you would like, you can easily hire a dog walker to help your pet get exercise. 

Finding a pet.  Matching a pet with your individual situation is a key to a successful relationship.  Many placement organizations work hard at identifying the individual personalities and needs of pets to match them with the right home.  You can research pets available from shelters and rescues online and discuss compatibility with the people who know the animal that piques your interest.  Even within specific breeds, personalities can vary, and animals can be shaped by their experiences.  Discussing prospective pets with the people who know them offers you better insight into your selection, and some groups will interview you to ensure the pet is a good fit with your lifestyle.

Bringing your pet home.  Once you find your perfect match, you’ll want to prepare.  Purchase the food your pet is used to and buy other essentials such as bedding, bowls, toys, and a collar and leash.  Pet-proof your home so there isn’t anything hazardous your new friend could stumble onto, such as chemicals or poisonous plants, and set up your furry friend’s space.  When you bring home your pet, introduce him to the appropriate potty area first, and if a good choice is made, give lots of praise.  Be forgiving if there are accidents, since even housebroken pets can make mistakes during times of change.  Introduce your pet to the areas he’ll be using, and allow time for exploration.  The American Kennel Club recommends keeping your animal’s routine as close to what it was previously as possible, since so much is new.  Remember your pet will need time to adjust, but soon you’ll be best friends. 

Friendship and wellness.  Adding a pet during your senior years can be a worry, but with good planning and the right choices, it can boost your well-being.  Do some research and prepare carefully for your furry friend.  You’ll find the benefits a pet brings to your life can make your golden years shine even brighter!

- This article was written by an anonymous friend of FOWAS.