Pet Care Advise for Seniors

As an elderly person, you may well have had many pets in your life. But, suddenly, you want another one. And that may not be a bad idea. According to the National Council for Aging Care, pets provide senior citizens companionship, a sense of purpose, and relief from stress and anxiety. Separate research has found that pets lower blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglyceride levels in people who are older, possibly because they calm us while also keeping us active. All these benefits are great, but what about the practicality of adopting a pet—settling it into your home, keeping it safe, and feeding it? Read on for some tips and advice.

Choosing Your Pet

The first step in adopting a pet will probably be figuring out what kind of pet you want. Right now, the most popular pets in the U.S. are dogs (74.8 million), cats (88.3 million), and freshwater fish, at 142 million. If you’re looking for a pet that’s active, you may go with a dog (possibly a support dog). Plenty of charities match senior citizens to companion animals. Another option is the “seniors for seniors” program, which also matches person to pet, except that both are elderly. The idea is that if moving around is difficult for you, then raising a puppy or a kitten may be onerous rather than delightful.

Helping a New Pet Settle Into Your Home

Once you’ve picked out the right pet, make sure to welcome him into your home. Reserve part of one of your rooms for a pet bed or a mound of pillows so your pet feels like he has his own space. Set boundaries to give him a sense of structure. But also recognize that there will be mistakes and that you two will eventually find a harmony the longer that you share a home together. For dogs, let him snoop around to get acquainted with the new digs. Also, get your dog vaccinated, so that he can play and romp around with other dogs at your nearby dog park. If you have to be away from home for the day or weekend, consider bringing in a local pet sitter to keep your pet company because pets can get anxious in a new environment.  

Keeping Your Home Safe

A big component of settling your pet into your home is making him feel safe. Don’t let him roam outdoors unless you have a fence, to prevent your pet from running off or being attacked by larger animals. Also, install smoke and carbon monoxide alarms. Regulate the temperature indoors, so that it’s comfortable. Coordinate with a friend or neighbor who you can call to feed your pet when you’re stuck at work. Finally, consider putting a GPS monitor in your pet’s collar in the event that he gets out and runs away.

The Best Dog Food

Let’s say you decide to get a dog, and you find out that he’s prone to allergies and gastrointestinal issues. Dog foods branded for canines with food sensitivities usually don’t have many ingredients, which decreases the likelihood that your dog will get sick from one of them. Similarly, the ingredients that they do have are easily digestible and rich in probiotics, like lamb, chicken, potatoes, and brown rice. If all the options stocked in the pet food aisle seem overwhelming, consult with your veterinarian to gauge his best recommendation for which one to choose.

Pets infuse joy and spontaneity to our lives. They can be companions to children as well as seniors, especially if they feel isolated or alone. Just make sure to welcome your pet into your home so that you are a mutual boon to each other.

Image via Unsplash

PetsJessica BrodyComment