Tag Archives: senior

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.

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Why "Dog Years" intrigue us

Animal lovers are humanizing their pets more than ever.  Putting a human age on your dog is a natural part of this process.  “If Duke is four, that means he is 28 in human years.”   Well, not necessarily.  We have long been told that one dog year equals seven years of human life.  But actually, the ratio is higher in the younger years and decreases as the dog ages.

Not only is it fun to calculate dog years, we also use it to try to predict how long our best bud will be around.  We all hope for our pups to live long, healthy lives and there's a tenuous sense of control that comes from understanding their "age" at various points in their time with us.

The following chart considers different development stages and the average rates at which they are reached for the various sizes of dogs:

dog years

FUN FACT:  The oldest recorded age for a dog is 27 years.

Besides the size of the dog, other factors play a role in the lifespan of dogs:

Neutering/Spaying  -  Neutered or spayed dogs tend to live longer than intact dogs.  The risk of cancer is greatly diminished by removing sex organs.  The sooner these procedures are done, the lower the risk of cancer these areas.

Diet - Like humans, a dog’s health and lifespan will be improved with a high-quality diet and suitable portion sizes. Foods without fillers, additives, and unnamed ingredients offer the healthiest nutrition. A dog’s requirements will depend on its age, weight, breed and lifestyle.

Exercise - All dogs require regular exercise for a healthy, long life. The amount and type of activity will depend on the breed and individual dog.  Mental stimulation for dogs is very important as well.  Changing up the daily walk route, playing with different toys, or giving the pup tasks to perform will all stimulate the mind.

Living Conditions – Dogs that live outside and endure extreme weather will have a shorter lifespan and be prone to early illness.  There are certain breeds of dogs can handle wet and cold conditions easier than others, but keeping your dogs indoors is recommended.

Medical Attention – Regular vet visits, vaccinations and monthly preventative medication will increase the lifespan of your dog.

Breed - Large breeds generally have a shorter lifespan than smaller breeds.  Pure-breeds tend to be less healthy than mixed breeds.

BOGO dog Lady, below, will be 14 (78 in dog years) in early March. She's got cataracts and her back end gives her issues some days but the word "Walk!" or any movement suggesting she might get a treat have her prancing like a two year old.

Lady

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