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Senior Citizen’s Guidelines

Are you considering the idea to adopt a pet in your senior years, I am now sixty years old with an eight- year- old Rottweiler. I am feeling kind of lonely already knowing my faithful companion will be leaving me soon for puppy heaven, so I have been tossing the idea of possibly fostering another dog instead of adopting. While I was researching the benefits and cost between adopting and fostering I find out some valuable information for senior citizens, so if you are sixty-five years old or older your local animal shelter may waiver the fee for you to adopt. Fostering might be an option for you to try out a new dog in your home before you decide to adopt as well, so this is a good thing you can consider before you add a pet to your home.

What To Consider Before Adding A Pet Into Your Home

When we reach our senior years pets can be a blessing or a nightmare depending on the person, but the majority of senior citizens who adopt a pet or foster a pet experiences more blessings than nightmares from adding a pet into their home. One important thing to consider right away is how fond are you of animals, and if you like animals well enough as long as you are not around them long-term adding a pet could be a nightmare for you. On the other hand, if your heart becomes warm and you can feel the love pouring out of you, a pet could be just what you need to enrich your life.

adopt a pet
Some animal shelters waiver adoption fees for senior citizens
  • Are You Flexible To Change Your Routine
  • Do You Have Pet Experience
  • Do You Have Physical Limitations
  • Would A Pet Be Therapeutic For You
  • Are You Seeking Companionship
  • What Age Of Pet Would Be Best For You
  • What Type Of Pet Would Be Right For You
  • Consider A Breed Easy To Care For
  • Healthy Pets or Special Needs Pets
  • How Many Pets Can You Handle
  • Considering The Financial Expense Of The Pet
  • Managing The Loss Of Your Pet One Day
  • Where Will You Begin Your Pet Search

I recommend everyone no matter your age to take these questions into serious consideration before adding a new pet into your family, and the best place I suggest you begin your search is either your local animal shelter or Petfinder online. Petfinder is a very convenient and timesaving way to search for possible pets in your area, and you will find most of the local shelters and animal rescue organizations list their pets on Petfinder. What I love the most is you can create a custom pet alert which will come daily in your email, so you only have to go onto the website once to set up the alert and they will do all the work for you.

Puppies & Kitties

Being sixty-years-old I know raising a puppy or kitten would not be the best choice for me now, and for one reason I am experiencing health issues as most senior citizens do as well. So I am considering to adopt a pet which is an adult and housebroken, but I am also considering fostering a pet just in case I am not able to care for the pet before it is adopted the animal shelter will understand and accept the foster pet back asking no questions. I really urge any senior citizens to resist adding a puppy or kitten to their home, but of course this is your choice and I am just trying to share why it is better for you to add an older pet into your home.

Pets For The Elderly Foundation

The Pets for the Elderly Foundation helps pay the fees to participating animal shelters throughout the United States for senior citizens (age 60 and over) who adopt a pet from a participating shelter including pre-adoption veterinary exams and spay/neuter, if part of the adoption fee.
Research shows the most serious disease for older persons is not cancer or heart disease – it’s loneliness. Pets offer affection, unconditional love, fight loneliness, and can help ease the loss of a loved one. Owning a pet also offers many physical and social benefits for seniors as well.

adopt a pet
I know living alone without my Rottweiler companion I would feel so alone

Benefits For Seniors

The best medicine for many of us when we become older is the benefits our pets provide us without asking anything in return, and you will find more elderly people experiencing health issues who lack the companionship of a pet in their home. Depression is one of the leading cause of the majority of elderly people being unhappy and feeling they have nothing to live for. Today many of our children are living out of state from their parents, and so the parents often are living alone without family and friends to socialize with. It is a fact pets enrich the majority of people’s lives in their golden years, but there are many ways our pets provide health benefits we might not even realize.

  • Companionship
  • Gives Us A Purpose In Life
  • Pets Get Us Moving More Than We Would Otherwise
  • Incredible Stress Reliever
  • Pushes Outdoors More
  • Meeting Other Pet Owners
  • Adds New Interests & Activities In Our Life
  • Gives Us The Feeling Of Being Protected
  • Feeling Of Being Loved
  • Caring & Nurturing Our Pets

I will admit with my age and health issues I would be much less active if my Rottweiler did not push me to go for our daily walks, and I have noticed a dramatic improvement in my health simply by adding my dog in my life. In my search for adding another dog to my home I am leaning towards a small breed dog which will be easier for me to handle, but also will fit into my fixed income and prevent me from overspending my budget. As we age our bodies are not as adapted to the pulling from the larger dog breeds when they get excited, and my Rottweiler is very well behaved, but when he sees children and other dogs, he just can’t control himself from pulling me.

Small Breed Dogs For Seniors

  • Shih Tzu
  • Pug
  • Chihuahua
  • Poodle
  • Boston Terrier
  • Miniature Schnauzer
  • Yorkshire Terrier
  • Maltese
  • Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
  • Pekingese
  • Cocker Spaniel
  • French Bulldog
  • Japanese Chin
  • Pomeranian
  • Scottish Terrier
  • Havanese
  • Border Terrier
  • Russel Terrier

These small dog breeds are recommended for seniors, and I personally have fallen in love with the Havanese breed from researching on The Kennel Club website. I also am partial to the Pug, Border Terrier and the Russell Terrier breeds, but it all comes down to your personal preference and the characteristics of the breed which one is right for you. You can visit The Kennel Club website to learn about all the dog breeds available for you to consider, and you will find all the information you need about them from their size and weight to their health problems. Even though their website focuses on pure-bred dog breeds, I am not one which feels adopting a pet which is a pure breed is any better than adopting a pet which is a mixed breed, but whatever breed is most dominant most often dictates what your new pet is going to behave like. My Rottweiler is the only pure-bred dog I have every owned, and even though we have a closer bond than I have with any other dog it has nothing to do with him being a pure-bred dog. If you choose a dog at your local shelter which looks more like a Rottweiler than any other breed there is a good chance that dog is going to act more like a Rottweiler than any other type of dog breed.

For anyone interested in this beautiful and amazing dog breed I recommend you visit the website Your Dog Advisor to learn their article 11 Things You Should Know About The Havanese, I am a big fan of this website and I recommend you consider this as one of your first places to do research for dog breeds and dog care tips.

adopt a pet
I could not resist sharing the Havanese dog breed since it has found a special place in my heart

What About Cat Breeds?

Cats are another good choice for seniors as pets, and you will find adult cats are not nearly as much work for you to care for. Both these pets have their advantages and disadvantages, and one of the biggest disadvantages I see owning a cat is many people find out they are allergic to them. I also enjoy spending my free time walking the nature trail near my home with my Rottweiler, and I can’t imagine ever walking my cat on the nature trail on my daily walks. Cats really are easy to care for as long as you provide them clean kitty litter they prefer they rarely will do their business in the house anyplace else, so really it is a personal choice which you need to consider your lifestyle and how you want to spend your time with your pet.

  • American Shorthair
  • Burmese
  • Himalayan
  • Munchkin
  • Persian
  • Snowshoe
  • Bombay

I am allergic to cats, so I have never owned one myself. I got this list of cat breeds from the website Kitty Lover News, so if you are interested in more information about these breeds and more breeds recommended by this website for seniors I suggest you visit their website. I just want you to know I love all animals even the wildlife animals which live in the forests, but I just can’t breathe when I am around this type of pet for very long. Many women are more partial to cats than men, but some men like my middle son loves all animals, and he owns a beagle and a cat. The myth dogs and cats can’t live in the same house is not true, but I am sure it is much less stressful when you add both of them to your home as puppies and kittens.

Adopt A Pet

Many times people prefer a puppy or kitten because they are just so cute, but another reason people tell me they would rather purchase a pet than adopt is because they don’t want to go through the adoption process. I must admit the process is not as easy as it used to be, and the reason is the animal shelter and animal rescue you adopt your pet from want to be sure their animals are going to good homes. With animal abuse so high today this has put pet adoption organizations on the alert to check out the people who wish to add one of their pets to their own home, so how does this process work?

Shelter Adoption Process

There is no one process which applies to every animal shelter, but here is an example of how the process works if you adopt from Adopt A Pet. Adopt a pet is one of the less complicated processes I have experienced, so this is how their process works.

  1. You find a pet you want to adopt on who’s at a shelter.
  2. You go to the shelter and see the pet. He’s adorable! You ask at the shelter desk and they have a staff or volunteer take him out so you can meet with him. You fall in love.
  3. They put the pet back, and you go up to the shelter desk, give them your photo ID, pay the adoption fee (average range is $25 to $125), and get copies of the pet’s vaccination records and sterilization certificate so you can get him licensed.
  4. You take your new pet home!

Animal Rescue Adoption

  1. ou find a pet you want to adopt on who’s at a rescue.
  2. You email the rescue, who asks you to fill out their online application. The next day, one of the rescue’s volunteers calls you and you talk to them more about the pet. It seems like a good match, and agree to come meet the pet at their adoption event in a local pet store that weekend.
  3. You meet the pet and fall in love. An event volunteer calls a home check volunteer, and you all arrange for a home visit. After the home visit, you get a call from a volunteer to let you know you will be the home adopting the pet! They email you copies of his vaccination and sterilization records. You arrange a delivery day for your new pet.
  4. Your new pet is brought by his foster volunteer to your home! You sign their adoption contract and pay their adoption fee (usually ranges from $100 to $300 but sometimes more).

Shelter Vs Rescue

Some of the advantages of adopting from a shelter are you might be able to see many pets for adoption all at once at their facility. Many shelters have a very easy or no screening process, and will let you take home whatever pet you want the same day. Adoption fees are often lower than a rescue’s, but you may need to pay for additional vet care after adopting.

Some of the advantages of adopting from a rescue are they often know a lot about each of the pets in their care, since the pets may be in foster homes. A rescue might have a more involved screening process, which can take more time, but can help you adopt a pet that is more likely to be an easier match for your home. Adoption fees are often higher than a shelter, but often include vet care that would cost more if you paid the vet yourself.

Ready To Bring Your Pet Home

You really need to prepare before you bring your new pet home, and the first thing you should consider is preparing your family if you don’t live alone. This often does not apply directly to seniors, but if you happen to live with your children or family, you will need to consider preparing them what you are about to do. I really think even if you live alone you should inform your family you are adding a pet to your home, and this is just a nice thing to do so when they visit you they know to be greeted by a wet nose. I rarely receive any visitors from my family with the addition of my Rottweiler, and it is not because they fear him, but because they don’t want to deal with his wet nose and slobbering to get their attention.

What Does Your Pet Need To Come Home?

Food Bowl

Water Bowl

Pet Food





Pet Bed

Pet Pharmacy Supplies

Anything Else You Want To Spoil Them

Shop For A Vet

Pet Proof Your Home

Introduce Your Pet To Their Potty Area

Allow Them To Ease Into Their New Home At Their Own Pace

Remember, your new pet might be experiencing anxiety and trust issues when you first bring them home, but as they become more comfortable with you and their new home, their true personality and love for you will grow. I just want you to know there are some shelter animals which never become extremely close to you, and even if they love their new home and you, they might not show it by being cuddly and spending all their time with you. I had a shelter dog which was never in the same room as I was except for dinner time, potty time and outdoor playtime, so I am sad to admit I never became as close to that dog as I am my Rottweiler which I raised from a pup. Much of this depends how they were treated before they ended in the shelter, so this is not the case of all dogs which you adopt from a shelter.

Most Common Shelter Dog Issues

You must expect your pet might have some issues from before they ever ended up in a shelter, and it is important for you to know what the most common issues to expect. By understanding what issues are common you can prepare yourself ahead of time how to handle them, so you see when you adopt a pet there is much you need to consider and prepare before actually bringing your new pet home.

  • Anxiety
  • Aggression
  • Accidents In The Home
  • Stressed
  • Overwhelmed
  • Marking Their New Home
  • Separation Anxiety
  • Destructive Behavior

These are the most common issues people experience when they adopt a pet from a shelter or animal rescue, but all animals don’t experience all these issues much of it depends what they experienced before they ended up in the shelter. Another thing which dictates their issues is how long they are in the shelter, and even though the workers and volunteers don’t spend all that much time with them they can become attached to them and their new home. For how to manage these issues I recommend you visit the website My Pet Needs That.

What Is On My Mind Today?

My intention of this article is to prepare you for what is involved when you adopt a pet from an animal shelter, but don’t allow the obstacles to scare you away from adding a pet to your home from an animal shelter. Adopting dogs and cats from shelters are a very caring and kind thing you are doing, and older dogs already housebroken are the best choices when you are in your senior years. If you provide a happy home and give your new pet lots of love you both will enjoy your time spend together, and there is nothing in this world which can change your life as much as giving a shelter pet another chance.

Thank You For Reading My Article And Your Support,


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Thabo · March 18, 2019 at 10:07 pm

Hello Jeff,
Thanks for this very informative and heart felt post on what a senior citizen should look for when adopting a pet. Like you I am generally pro-pet when it comes to seniors. Pets give unconditional love. It doesn’t matter what you look like, how you dress or what you do all day, they will return the love you give them no matter what. Having this kind of emotional support helps to reduce stress and therefore reduces your risks of high blood pressure and heart disease. Also, pets, as you point out, can help keep you from getting lonely and depressed, now that your kids are grown and finally living away from home. Although they can’t replace live-in family members, pets do provide company and require care. But most pets respond to “parental” authority, without arguing or disagreeing.

That said, you wisely address questions that should be considered before a senior adopts a pet.I think that you make the excellent point of reminding us that a dog’s temperament is more important than breed or size in determining if he or she will be good for you. I have friends who have pets and I can indeed attest to the fact that what kind of pets, particularly dogs, they ended having matched their ability to take care of them properly. Late-night walks for dogs can be quite a chore. Also, they had to consider the question of whether their budget could take the expenses of a pet—for food, grooming and medical care.

Overall this is an excellent guide for any senior who is considering adopting a pet.

    Jeff · March 19, 2019 at 11:42 am

    Thank You Thabo

    I appreciate you reading my article on adopting a dog for seniors, and a pet especially dogs are a great comfort to
    single people especially seniors. You do provide a good point on the extra expense and time to care for your pet,
    but most pet owners will admit the extra expense and time is well worth the love they receive from having a pet
    as a companion.

Timotheus · March 19, 2019 at 9:05 am

This is a wonderful article filled with helpful tips about adopting a pet during our senior years. I am not too far away from those years, and have considered getting a pet as a companion and friend.

In the past, I did have fur friends. The last one passed away a few years ago. I have not accepted a new fur friend since, mostly because I have been too busy at work. I believe I will be ready again in my later years.

In the meantime, thank you for this article. I will bookmark it, and use it to help me and guide me on how to find a new fur buddy in the future.

    Jeff · March 19, 2019 at 11:45 am

    Thank You Timotheus

    I do recommend you seriously consider adding a pet to your home once you retire and have more time,
    you will receive so many good times with your pet and the companionship is something only a pet owner
    can ever experience with their pet.

    Take Care

dena briley · March 25, 2019 at 12:30 am

This is great information, I know seniors can really benefit from adopting a dog. Last August my mom lost her spouse, which left her all alone and not sure what to do. At that time we had taken in a dog from a friend that was not able to keep the dog anymore and she was a perfect fit for my mom. Now mom has someone to talk to when she is alone and when you talk with her she tells you everything her dog does, it was really a good match except I think mom is spoiling her like crazy. I think getting mom a dog was the best thing we could ever do and I would recommend it for any senior that enjoys dogs.

    Jeff · March 29, 2019 at 5:22 pm

    Thank You Dena

    I appreciate you sharing your own personal experience with you mom and adding a dog in her life,
    I really think more people would find a pet would improve the quality of their life. I found when
    I was living in an apartment with no dogs policy I became really depressed living alone, but once
    I added a pup into my life and found a new place to live my mood and depression improved drastically.
    You will find it is almost impossible to not be more positive and happier with a pet as a companion,
    so if your anxiety and depression meds are not working for you, consider adding a pet and see how
    your best meds just might be your pet.


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