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Seniors & Pets II: 7 Factors to Consider in Choosing a Pet


I love dogs, but there are some I have no desire to own or even be around. Acquiring a new dog is no different than any other purchase. It has to be a good fit. After all, you’re choosing a new family member, friend and companion. The process can be a bit tricky, especially for seniors. There are multiple factors to consider when choosing and purchasing a dog.  Last week I shared five benefits of pet ownership and how caring for one could lead to greater independence. Today I am sharing seven things to consider when choosing a new dog.


  • The Senior’s Needs and DesiresMelissa Nelson, DVM, says the first consideration is the senior themselves. Do they even want a dog? What type, size, and age? Can they afford care and upkeep? Best to not surprise a senior with a pet, especially if it’s not compatible or can’t be cared for.


  • The Senior’s Mobility – How active is the senior? Is he or she wheelchair bound? If so, then a lap dog may be most appropriate. Your senior may not want to train a puppy, especially if mobility is an issue. Choose a dog whose level of activity matches the senior’s.


  • Living Situation – Where does the senior live? Is it a two-story home? Small apartment? As an owner or renter, what amenities like a park, yard or walking path are available? If a small apartment, then a Great Dane may not be the best choice.


  • Pet’s Energy Level – The dog’s energy level needs to match that of the senior. If the senior is not very active, then an older dog with less energy could be a better choice.


  • Dog’s Age – An older less active and house-trained dog may be more appropriate than a puppy with high energy.


  • Size of the Dog – Size does matter. Depending on the living situation, activity level, and the senior’s wants, a small or medium-sized dog might be best.


  • Cost of Care – Can the senior even afford a dog? Besides the cost of feeding it, there are vet costs and other considerations.

The list above is hardly exhaustive. There are other elements to consider like the dog’s temperament and breed. The factors above though, are a good starting point. Carol Bradley Bursack, author, speaker and eldercare expert, echoes the findings that pets enhance our physical and emotional well-being. Utilizing tried and true guidelines, she says, will aid in choosing a senior’s new best friend. My hope is that the above points help you in choosing your new best friend.