6 Things to Consider Before Getting a Pet for Older Persons

If you’ve read our previous post, 4 Dramatic Ways Pets Benefit an Older Person and are thinking about getting a pet for your senior mum or dad, here are a few things to consider first:

1. Check if your Community Allows Fur Friends

Small animals are welcome at Glenvale Villas in most of the homes (please have a chat to Management if you’re unsure about the suitability of your specific Glenvale Villa).

2. Owner Suitability

  • Owner temperament and experience: If the owner is set in their ways or has never had a pet before, it might not be for them.
  • Owner disabilities: Does the owner have any disabilities? A dog can be a wonderful companion for seniors with no major physical limitations. Cats need less care than dogs and may be a better option for those with more physical challenges. A small, paper-trained, dog or indoor bird could also be an alternative.

Please do bear in mind that a large number of falls have been attributed to an animal in the home.

  • Are you looking for a therapy or assistance animal? If the person is very infirm or impaired, programs offering animal therapy may be a better option.

3. Pet Compatibility

  • Age: A puppy or kitten may not be the best choice for elderly owners because of the care they require. They will need toilet and behaviour training, possibly destroying belongings and furniture in the interim. A young animal may outlive its owner – birds especially have long life spans. Yet, it’s also important that the pet isn’t too old since it may start to have physical limitations and get sick.

Dachshunds, poodles, and some terrier breeds have particularly good personalities.

  • Dog size, breed and temperament: Most seniors like small, older dogs – those that won’t be adopted by families with children. Smaller dogs, in particular, can easily travel with you wherever you go. Although some big dog breeds may, in fact, prove to have a calmer temperament than some smaller breeds. For example, even though Jack Russell’s may be small, they are extremely high energy!

4. To buy or to adopt

  •  Buying: You can choose to buy a younger animal from a breeder, pet shop or private individual. Just be aware that they are more expensive than adopting and that the pets may not be vaccinated or desexed. Please also do your research to ensure that you aren’t unknowingly supporting a puppy farm!
  • Adopting: Adopting a pet from a shelter is also an option and comes with the added benefit of rescuing an animal from euthanasia! Animal shelters and rescues rehome a pet for about half of the cost of buying one! These pets come fully vaccinated, microchipped and desexed. Dogs are also tested for heartworm. Online pet browsing is a possibility and Pet Rescue has great easy-to-use search options!

Often, shelter employees know the individual pets’ personalities and can make a good match.

5. Cost

Are finances an issue? Aside from the initial outlay, pets can become expensive! Food, toys and grooming are all costs to be considered. Medical care or pet insurance might also become more of a burden as the pet ages.

 6. Long-term Plan

Ensure that long-term care for a pet is provided for. If an older person becomes unable to care for a pet, reliable alternative arrangements need to be made. It is even more vital that someone knows that an elderly person has a pet. If nobody knows about it, the pet could be left neglected if the owner is suddenly rushed to hospital!


Pets are a responsibility and do need proper care. But when their needs are understood and met, it can lead to a deeply fulfilling relationship that is mutually beneficial to both sides.

That’s why we are so supportive of pets at Glenvale Villas. We see the difference they make to our residents’ lives.

If you wish to know more about our residents (and pets) please contact us, or drop past for a cuppa and a tour!