Category Archives: Good Friends

Pets For Seniors: Choosing a Companion

By guest blogger Jessica Brody

Are you a senior interested in getting a pet? There are lots of benefits to doing so, from companionship in times of need to mental and physical health benefits. These four points will help you prepare your home, and your lifestyle, for a new addition by making the right choices about type, size, breed, and age.

Pet Type

To start, you need to think carefully about the type of animal you want to bring into your home. Choosing the right pet will guarantee a comfortable and pleasant experience for both parties.

First and foremost, think about the environment you will be able to provide for your pet. Do you live in a house or an apartment? An apartment may call for a smaller animal, such as a bird, a cat, or a hamster. A house may provide enough room for a dog.

Next, ask yourself how much energy you can devote to your pet on a day-to-day basis. If you need a significant amount of time for self-care, or require ongoing assistance, a low maintenance pet may be the best option. If you find that you are generally comfortable caring for your own health and home, a cat or dog are possible pets.

Finally, think long and hard about how long you will able to be the primary caregiver for a pet. Does the idea of ten or fifteen years seem daunting? A young cat or dog may not be the best solution. However, if your health is strong and you have experience handling pets, an animal with a long lifespan may be worth it.

Having trouble making a decision? This article from Best Friends can help you choose the right pet for your home.

Pet Size

The next step is thinking about the size of your pet. This is especially important for dogs, which come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Do you want a small, medium, or large animal?

A small animal could be a bird, a guinea pig, a turtle, a fish, or a rabbit. These animals all live in cages and are generally easy to monitor. A medium animal could be a small dog or a cat, both of which require far more responsibility. A large animal is usually a dog, such as a Labrador Retriever or a Husky.

Consider these options and ask yourself which size works best for your home and your lifestyle.

Pet Breed

Rarely does breed make a significant difference when it comes to small animals like rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, turtles, or fish. However, if you plan on getting a bird, a cat, or a dog, the specific breed you choose can change your experience completely.

The best thing you can do is thoroughly research your options. There are dozens of breeds to choose from, so this could take several weeks to decide.

Pet Age

Once you’ve decided on a pet type, size, and breed, you need to think about age. This depends mostly on how long you believe you’ll be able to care for your pet - in addition to the amount of time you have to put into training.

As a senior, this is likely not the best time to invest in a puppy or a kitten. Instead, you might want to consider visiting a shelter and saving the life of a growing dog or cat. Rescue animals can range from one to ten years in age and often make the best companions.

For smaller animals such as rodents or fish, you should feel comfortable starting young. You can, however, rescue guinea pigs from shelters across the country.

Think carefully about these four factors before choosing your new companion, and you’ll build the foundation for a healthy owner-pet relationship that will last for years to come.


Hot Dog!

There's a reason they call it the Dog Days of Summer. If your little place in the world is as hot as it has been in Iowa, you know all too well what they meant. So how do you make sure your pal gets the outside time they need safely? And how do you keep them entertained when they're inside?
Group of happy children playing on green grass in spring park
Even if they love the outdoors, and don't notice how hot it is, be aware of the impact high heat and humidity might be having on them. Like little kids, they don't know what's best for them - you do. Letting them out in the cooler parts of the day is best, of course, but if they need to be out in the hottest times, stay with them so you know when they're able to go back inside. Regardless of how long they're out, make sure they have both shade and fresh water.
­Some signs of heatstroke to watch for:
  • Panting more than usual
  • Heart beating very quickly
  • More slobbery than usual
  • Tongue bright red
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Vomiting or diarrhea
Once your dog is overheated, it can be hard to cool him off. Gentle wiping him down with a cold cloth can help. Putting him near a fan or air conditioning is ideal.. Being overheated can cause seizures and even cardiac arrest. If you have any concerns, get your pal to the Dog Doc ASAP.
What can you do to keep your pal entertained? 
  • Hide treats around the house and do some nose work.
  • Work on your obedience skills. Errr, your dog's obedience skills.
  • Stuff a Kong with peanut butter or banana and freeze, then let them go to town getting to the tasty treat. That is a favorite around here!
  • Don't have all your dog's toys available at once. Rotating them out makes them feel new and interesting.
  • Put some tennis balls or balled up socks in a muffin tin with treats hiding underneath. Instant puzzle game!
  • If you have enough room to play 'chase' safely, that's a workout for you both!
  • One game that's popular around here is to restuff a stuffed toy that the dog has 'murdered.'
If you have ideas for how to keep them busy, share! We'd love to hear!



Have a happy - and safe - 4th!

The Fourth of July is right around the corner!  While this is an exciting and fun time for people, we want to make sure our pets are safe and can enjoy the holiday, too!  Did you know that the loud noises and flashing lights typically involved in the Fourth of July could frighten pets and cause abnormal behavior, resulting in broken leashes, jumping fences, running away, and even biting?
Here are some pet safety tips to help you and your pet get the most out of the Fourth.
  1. Keep your pet away from the noise in someplace quiet, sheltered, and escape-proof during fireworks or other loud noises.
  2. Make sure your pet has a collar and ID tag to ensure they can return home if they get separated from you.
  3. Never use fireworks around your pets.
  4. Keep lighter fluid and matches away from pets.
  5. Do not put glow jewelry on pets or allow them to play with this.
  6. Do not leave alcoholic beverages unattended where pets can get them.
  7. Above all, do not take your pets to any festivities, including fireworks, concerts, etc.!
Use these tips in addition to your best judgment to ensure a fun and safe Fourth of July for humans and pets alike!