Having a furry companion has many benefits. Not only do they offer endless love and friendship, but pets also are intuitive and can help keep seniors safe and healthy. Whether you're living at home or in assisted living, there is a breed that is a good pick for you. Here we’ll discuss what you need to know before you adopt a pet. Dogs specifically offer many benefits to us in old age. Today we will share a list of the best dogs that are easy to care for and make great companions for seniors.
What to Think About Before Getting A Dog
Adopting companion dogs means doing a little research ahead of time. Here are some things you’ll want to consider when asking “what kind of dog should I get?”
Large or particularly active dogs that require a lot of exercise or care might not be the best choice, especially if you have physical limitations. The best medium sized dogs and best lap dogs for seniors don’t require excessive care or grooming and are easy to train. Additionally, some breeds are noisier or susceptible to health issues, so choosing one of the healthiest dog breeds should be part of your decision-making process.
Older dogs and older humans are sometimes the perfect fit. Senior dogs usually are already trained and house broken and have fewer needs than a frisky puppy. Smaller dogs tend to live longer than larger ones, which is valuable to know if you’re looking at adopting an older pet.
Different breeds have some common personality traits, but each dog will have a temperament that’s unique to them. Take the time to interact with the pup before deciding if it’s the right match for you.
Your Medical Needs
The type of dog that’s the best match for you will have a lot to do with your own needs and limitations. Consider any mobility issues you live with, as well as equipment or devices you have around the house that could be tempting for your new pet.
If you have things like oxygen tubing that you use daily, a new puppy might be tempted to chew on it while an older dog could know enough to leave it alone.
Before adopting, carefully consider your situation to ensure you can adequately care for your dog. Do you have the financial ability to pay for it’s grooming, dog food, veterinary visits, additional supplies, and pet sitting if you travel? Is there someone who could help you with your dog if you need assistance? Do you have the ability to take your dog for daily walks if he or she is a breed with high energy levels?
There are companies like Rover who offer dog walking services at affordable prices, and some assisted living communities have a Pet Care Coordinator on staff who are available to help should you need it.
Benefits of Having A Dog As An Elder
Believe it or not, there are scientific studies that link dog ownership with a whole host of health benefits. Seniors who have a pet have better mental, physical and emotional health overall thanks to providing companionship, socialization, and an opportunity for exercise during daily walks.
In addition, owning a pup provides a boost in your quality of life. Playing with your companion releases endorphins that help lower your stress, heart rate, and blood pressure. Pet owners are proven to have lower instances of heart disease, stroke, and depression thanks to the uplifting effect of the animals. This is why pet therapy is so popular in today's world. Therapy dogs in particular help provide ease of mind and emotional support for all types of groups including seniors.
Dog Ownership Tips For Seniors
If you’re a new pet owner, there are just a few things you’ll want to do to ensure you are good at your job.
- Make your dog part of your family and show them love, affection, and companionship whenever you’re able.
- Pet-proof your living area to ensure that it’s safe for your dog and they won’t get into any hazardous materials.
- Care for your pet by giving it enough food, water, and exercise to stay healthy.
- Visit your local vet to have your dog spayed or neutered and stay up to date on their shots and health needs.
- Get an ID tag for your dog in case they ever get lost so that they will be safely returned to you.
Top 10 Dog Breeds For Elderly
Below, you’ll find a list of 10 perfect breeds for the elderly.
1. Cocker Spaniel
An adorable medium sized breed that grows to be around 20 pounds at most, cocker spaniels are usually affectionate canines. Used often as companions, they are loyal and charming but do have regular growing needs.
A breed who is eager to please, Pugs are playful and charming and don’t require a lot of exercises to stay healthy. As a small dog, they can fit comfortably on your lap and are accepted in many assisted living communities. Their only drawback is that they are a breed which sheds, especially if they live in a warm climate.
One of the smallest dog breeds out there, Chihuahuas are loyal and protective which make them a good fit for seniors. Be warned, they can be temperamental and bark a lot, so they’ll need some training to create a happy home.
If you want a breed with a little variety in size, Schnauzers are a good choice. They can range from miniature to medium and are energetic and playful. An intelligent breed, they are easy to train and good with children. They also have a strong instinct to protect their owners.
5. Shih Tzu
Shih Tau dogs are an alert breed, and as a result, have a tendency to bark. Despite that, these small lap dogs are friendly and well-suited to apartment living. They require daily exercise, but are long-lived and generally don’t have many health issues. You’ll need to have them groomed regularly to keep their coat silky, healthy, and very pet-able.
If you’re an active older adult, a Snoopy-inspired Beagle may be just the breed for you. They have distinct personalities and are known for being humorous, loyal and friendly. Beagles need a lot of exercise and can be a bit temperamental during training. Being so, beagles are easy to care for and don’t require lots of expensive grooming.
7. Boston Terrier
Boston Terriers are a senior-friendly breed. They’re compact, personable, easy to care for, and are a perfect fit for living in assisted-living facilities. Naturally affectionate dogs, they crave companionship and are often very in tune with the needs of their owners. If you want a pet who enjoys snuggle time while watching TV, a Boston is a good fit.
Another tiny dog on our list, the Pomeranian is an intelligent breed who loves pleasing people and being the center of attention. While they have a lot of energy, they don’t require excessive exercise aside from playing indoors. Additionally, their coats need regular brushing and grooming, and they are quite chatty. With that in mind, Pomeranians might not be the best fit for an apartment or senior living communities.
9. Yorkshire Terrier
Also known as Yorkies, these petite dogs love interacting with people. They are intelligent and loyal, but also have a bit of a bossy side so proper training is a must.
If you have pet allergies or want a dog who doesn’t shed, a hypoallergenic Poodle is a good choice. They are bread ranging from tiny to large, so you can choose a size that best fits your needs and living situation. Known for being particularly intelligent, Poodles are easy to train and are very adaptable.
Best dogs for seniors with allergies
Dogs can heighten allergies due to saliva, hair, pet dander, and mucus.
- Bichon Frise
These are lower allergen-dogs and great for seniors with allergies. The Bichon Frise has a curled coat which makes it more difficult for dander to escape the dog and irritate your allergies. Furthermore, they require professional grooming which cuts down on shedding.
Like the Bichon Frise, poodles are a great option for folks who suffer from allergies. They shed less than many other breeds and produce less dander and saliva which frequently triggers and worsens allergies.
Schnauzers, including mini and teacup breeds, generally do not shed, making them an ideal companion for those with allergies. Furthermore, many experts call them hypoallergenic. This means they are a great choice for people with COPD, allergies, and even asthma. Like the Bichon and poodle, they produce little dander and saliva.
Dogs are a great companion for everyone, and can really help the elderly become more active. Hopefully, you'll consider one of these top 10 best dogs for seniors to bring into your life no matter what your living situation is.