How To Choose a Dogs for Elderly Companionship

A dog would make a wonderful companion for an elderly person. When well-trained, dogs will be loyal and even helpful to seniors as with dogs for elderly companionship. But when choosing the right pet, criteria changes as a person grows older. Consider the health and overall physical conditions of an elderly dog owner when choosing the best dogs for seniors.

Some elderly people may also have medical conditions that require them to use a companion dog or a therapy dog. With all these things considered, how do you select the right kind or the right breed of dog for a senior?

Dogs for Elderly Companionship

The size of a pet dog matters

Yes, small dogs for elderly companionship fit them well. Small dogs for seniors are easier to care for compared to larger and more powerful dogs. There are some things that small dogs are known for

  • Small dogs are very protective of their owners and may tend to become very spoiled. Therefore, practice training a small dog early.
  • Some small dogs are contented with being lapdogs like Chihuahuas, but some small breeds are very energetic like Jack Russel terriers. A senior with a physical disability may not keep up with a boisterous terrier. 
  • Small dogs tend to bark a lot and are not a good companion for the elderly living in a senior’s home. 
  • Small dogs may have medical issues too, and this may be too much for a senior with health problems as well. Also, consider the cost of caring and treatment of a sick dog. Seniors living on welfare may not be able to afford the costs of owning this kind of dog.

The age of the dog is a factor to consider

Although having a puppy is a delight, an older dog may be a better choice for seniors. Why is it so? Consider the following advantages when you get older dogs for elderly companionship:

  • With an older dog, you already know what to expect. A puppy will still leave you guessing as to how healthy it would be or what medical issues it will get from its parents. Ask the shelter or the adoption center about the health history of an older dog you wish to adopt. Choose a healthy adult from a breed with fewer medical issues. 
  • An older dog will not be as active as an energetic pup. This matches the energy levels of an elderly human as well. 
  • You don’t have to spend too much time training an older dog, especially when it comes to basic house rules. 
  • You are also doing an old dog a new lease on life by adopting it and giving it a new home. If the dog was previously abandoned or ill-treated, this is its chance to have a loving and responsible owner.

The breed of the dog is a priority

Not all dog breeds are the same, and this is one of the most important factors to consider when selecting the right dogs for elderly companionship. Consider these when selecting a dog breed for the elderly:

  • Some dog breeds are more expensive to maintain than other breeds 

Grooming bills top the list of expenses when owning some dog breeds. Breeds with long, curly, or complicated coats tend to need regular maintenance and hence, need to visit a groomer more frequently than an owner visiting a salon. Also, these dogs need special grooming products that are very costly. 

Some dogs require a different kind of food, a new supplement, or special training classes and, thus, need an owner who can financially handle these needs. Seniors who need to buy medications, which live on welfare or those who rely on their family members for their needs should consider this before taking a high-maintenance breed. 

  • Some breeds are just too energetic for seniors

Sheepdogs, terriers, and other powerful dog breeds will need to be trained, walked more frequently, and needs constant outdoor exercise to stay fit and healthy. Seniors who can barely walk or move may not be a fitting owner for these breeds. 

  • Some breeds are not good apartment dwellers

Dog breeds like mastiffs, Newfoundlands, and Greyhounds may not do well in a small living space. These dogs need a lot of space to roam, move about, and to do the things they love to do. Sometimes they have some arthritis problems, so he needs to be an orthopedic dog bed for large breeds. Which is a lot of trouble for the elderly.

A senior who lives in an apartment in a senior’s home or a small room will find it hard to keep these dogs with them. And dogs that will be more than willing to stay in a small apartment or home are bulldogs, pugs, spaniels, and Chihuahuas.   

  • Some breeds are too dangerous for the elderly

Not like these dogs will bite or bark at their elderly owners but tend to be clumsy around anything.  Dog breeds like Chow- Chow, Pekinese, and Bulldogs are great dogs, but sometimes they won’t mind being messy or clumsy, and a disorganized and messy home is dangerous for a senior. Also, it’s hard to keep on cleaning after these dogs. 

  • Some dog breeds shed a lot

Another thing to consider is dogs that shed way too much. Seniors who have allergies or have reduced immune systems may prefer a dog that doesn’t shed or shed minimally. And of course, having to clean up, vacuum, and sweep hair all the time can be tiring for the elderly.  

Visit a pound, shelter or animal rescue center

Now that you have a clear idea about size, age, and dog breeds, it’s time to consider where to get your pet. As much as possible, get your dog from a shelter or a rescue center. Adopt, don’t buy! There are so many adorable dogs and cats waiting at a shelter near you, and just as we mentioned before, you’re giving these animals a new lease in life by adopting them. Also

  • Adopting a dog or cat is many times cheaper than buying one. You may only need to pay a small fee to register your pet and to get a certificate. Seniors won’t have to pay so much to get a suitable pet. 
  • Adoption centers are filled with all breeds, sizes, and kinds of dogs. You’ll surely find the best dog that will work for an elderly family member. 
  • And why adopt one when you can adopt more? If a senior has more than enough resources and space for more dogs, then why not get two, three, or more dogs from the center? The more dogs you adopt, the better chances that the center can help more abandoned dogs or those living on the streets. But don’t just adopt because of pity; consider all the mentioned factors beforehand.

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Medical checks before anything else

Whether you’re adopting or getting a young or old dog, a complete vet check is essential before you take it home. This is a worthwhile investment even for seniors as they can prevent many health conditions.

Ask for the dog’s medical records, vaccination records, and other information that pertains to the dog’s health. Take it to the vet to have it vaccinated, dewormed, or spayed or neutered. A healthy dog is a perfect companion for the elderly. 

Traveling with a dog companion

Seniors may be already retired and want to travel everywhere as a part of their life goals. Choosing a breed that’s perfect for traveling is a good idea as well. So considering the health, physical fitness, and the energy level of a senior, select the ideal pet breed for traveling.

For traveling or commuting, a small and compact dog is best. But before planning to travel, you must take some needed things for your dog. Like foods, nail clippers, stop dog barking device, etc.  A dog that a senior can keep on her lap would be adorable, and of course, a dog that loves car rides won’t mind being in a pet carrier, and those that adapt well to the outdoors are perfect matches. 

For companion and service dogs for disabled seniors, it’s best to consult a doctor who can recommend a group or agency that will provide this kind of dog. 

How about robotic pets for adults?

Yes, there are robotic dogs and cats that will suit seniors as well. Seniors who cannot tolerate a real pet because of a medical condition or physical disability can have a robotic pet instead. Great quality robotic dogs come with faux fur and have the ability to bark when spoken to, and can perform different commands. Other robot dogs can wag their tails, can respond to their names and can interact with their owners. 

Medical experts say that having a pet can work wonders for health. A pet cat or dog or even a small furry creature like rabbits, hamsters, and gerbils can reduce tension, help ease anxiety and lower blood pressure levels as well. Also, pets can help ease the loneliness that most seniors suffer from. 

Seniors who live on their own or those who reside or confined in a nursing home may feel alone, depressed, and deprived of their family members. In old age, some things become their daily companion. The best adjustable beds for seniors is just as effective, as is much more effective dogs for elderly companionship.

Having a pet dog, even robotic pets for adults can help them get by day after day. But it’s best to consider these important factors in choosing the correct dog breed so our elderly family members will be safe, happy, and healthy.