Aging Gracefully with Pets: Essential Factors for Seniors to Think About

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Adding a dog or cat to your family can be one of the best things you do as an older adult. This furry little creature fills your home with love, gives you a project to work on, and encourages you to be more active. But all things being equal, a pet can also introduce challenges as you deal with new costs and responsibilities.

To make sure you’re up for both the good and the bad of pet ownership, check out these key considerations before getting a pet. 

The Cons of Owning a Pet as a Senior

Let’s get the negative stuff out of the way. A pet is another mouth to feed with regular grooming and veterinarian needs. Adding these expenses to any budget can be difficult, but it’s especially challenging for seniors on a pension. You need to sit down with your budget to confirm you can handle the usual costs of pet ownership, like food, toys, grooming, and regular vet checkups.

If you haven’t looked after a pet in a while, resources exist to help you estimate these monthly costs so that you know what you need. Experts also suggest you put aside some cash into an emergency vet fund to help you handle those unpredictable issues. 

After all, pets of all kinds can get into mischief. A dog may eat through your stash of chocolate and a cat can swallow a ribbon, warranting a quick trip to the urgent care clinic. 

If your emergency fund falls short in these circumstances, you can visit a financial institution such as MoneyKey to learn about your other options. There, you can learn about online loans with quick and convenient applications you can fill out mid-emergency. If you are approved, you can use these funds to help your pet get life-saving care. 

Finding the right pet for your home is another consideration. Someone who uses mobility aids and lives in a one-bedroom apartment may not have the room or fitness required to look after high-energy puppies, huskies, or shepherd mixes. In this case, a sleepy senior cat might be a better option.

The Pros of Owning a Pet as a Senior

With the financial concerns out of the way, let’s focus on the benefits of owning a pet as a senior. One of the biggest perks is the companionship. 

Retirement can be an incredibly isolating experience for plenty of seniors. According to the National Academies of Science, Engineers, and Medicine (NASEM), nearly one-in-four adults over the age of 65 consider themselves to be socially isolated

A pet can curb these feelings of loneliness, as you’ll have a buddy to spend time with all throughout the day. Science shows this companionship boosts your feel-good hormones, including dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin

Caring for your four-legged fur baby also encourages you to form healthier habits, as you take your dog for a walk and follow a routine for feeding and playing with your cat. Walking, in particular, is a great activity for seniors — and it’s not limited to those with dogs. You can train your cat to walk on a leash! With a cat or dog, any senior who keeps to a regular walking schedule can reduce their risk of heart disease and diabetes, not to mention how they’ll improve their strength, mobility, and endurance. 

The Takeaways:

The Pros: 

  • Pets can reduce feelings of loneliness and social isolation.
  • Some pets can encourage you to get out and go, improving your fitness.

The Cons: 

  • Caring for pets comes with cost considerations, especially in a vet emergency.
  • Some high-energy pets require more time, attention, and physical activity than you can spare.

Weigh these lists to help you decide if adding a furry loved one is right for you!

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