Pets for Seniors: Choosing a Companion that Fits Your Lifestyle

Some of the most tangible joys in life can come from the physical affection that pets display for their owners. Positive, mood-boosting benefits accompany these moments, which can include coming home to hear the excited yelps of a dog or sitting down on the couch with a cat purring contentedly nearby. Pets such as dogs and cats have the ability to offer a sense of unconditional love, and others including birds and fish also bring sound, life, and movement to a home.

Pet Ownership: Benefits and Considerations

Besides offering a physical connection with another living being, pet ownership is also beneficial for seniors who may be looking for a renewed sense of purpose. Pet owners may experience health benefits from these interactions such as lowered blood pressure and stress levels, reduced boredom, increased social interaction, and increased opportunities for exercise.

Despite these physical and psychological benefits, pet ownership also comes with a great deal of responsibility. If you are considering whether or not to become a pet owner, take into account the following key considerations:

Physical Fitness:
Caring for an animal requires you to be physically fit enough to give it the care it needs. Different pets need different levels of exercise and physical interaction, and young animalsÑsuch as puppies and kittensÑrequire higher levels of attention. Be honest with yourself when deciding whether or not you can commit to physical demands of pet ownership.

Budget:
Pets will create new food and health care expenditures, so do some background research associated with the costs of caring for different types and sizes of pets. As a pet owner, you might also want to buy pet-specific toys and gear, including leashes, collars, or aquariums, so be sure to count these essential start-up costs as well.

Reserve Resources:
While you may be the primary caretaker of your pet, also take stock of your back-up resources. Do you have friends or family members who will be willing to help with pet care if you go on vacation or become ill? Make sure that you have ample reserve resources to offer your pet the best care possible.

A Pet for Your Lifestyle

Now that you’ve considered a few basics that apply to pet ownership, narrow your focus, and take into account how different types of pets may or may not fit with your lifestyle. Use this overview of basic responsibilities and considerations to spark further interest into specific breeds or types of pets that fall within the general category that best suits your lifestyle.

Dogs:
Dogs are a great pet choice for you if you enjoy an active lifestyle, as most dogs need to be walked outside a minimum of two times a day. In this way, choosing a dog as a pet can help inspire your own outdoor activity. But be realistic: Daily exercise should already be a part of your lifestyle if you’re prepared for the demands of dog ownership.

As a new dog owner, make sure to take advantage of training opportunities that can help you establish good management styles and control of your dog. If you are able to commit to the physical and mental commitments of dog ownership, they you’ll likely experience the rewards of a loyal and affectionate companion.

Cats:
Cats are a good pet choice for owners who are able to care for a pet that needs regular food and water replenishment as well as some playtime activity. But because cats can use the bathroom indoors in a litter box, they don’t need to be taken outside multiple times a day. Unlike dogs, domesticated housecats don’t need physical exercise in the form of outdoor walks, but they do thrive on indoor play activities and need daily physical activity to stay healthy.

Be aware: Cats have an instinct and a need to scratch, so be prepared to provide a scratching post or scratching pads for your cat. Since cats are relatively small in size, you do not need to possess a great deal of physical strength or fitness to care for a cat, but your effort will be rewarded as you discover a constant and loving presence in your home.

Birds:
If you love birdsongs and melodic chirping, then choosing a bird as a pet will be a great option to liven up your home. Parrots, canaries, and finches are common choices for pets, and while some birds will interact with humans in a chatty way with their own singsong voices, other breeds can be trained to mimic human speech.

Birds do need out-of-cage time and the space to fly, so consider this need and your available space as well as your willingness to clean up bird droppings from around your home. As a bird owner, you will need to be able to clean the bird’s cage daily and provide regular food and water. Birds are highly intelligent and have specialized needs depending on their type, so be sure to research specific care tips for the type of bird you are considering as a pet.

Fish:
Fish invite a sense of relaxation with their smooth swimming motions and beautiful colors. A fish is a good pet choice for you if you would like to have a low-maintenance pet that doesn’t need regular exercise or dedicated playtime.

Daily fish care tasks include feeding, providing necessary lighting, and monitoring water temperature and quality. Coldwater fish are recommended for new fish owners since they’re easier to care for, and their tanks do not require heaters. Despite adding some tank maintenance tasks to your schedule, fish are calming and affordable as well as a great way to enjoy the natural world within your home.

When deciding whether or not pet ownership is right for you, take extra time to consult with other pet owners as well as community experts. You’ll find that local pet stores and pet adoption centers such as the Humane Society can offer advice and answers to your specific questions. If you do decide that becoming a pet owner is a good fit for your lifestyle, then look forward to the positive benefits you’ll experience in the years to come.

Article provided by IPC Senior Care of Colorado


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