Pets are known as beloved companions that provide entertainment, company, and in some cases, protection. Outside of these common pet characteristics, are benefits that can enhance any senior’s lifestyle and well-being. For a senior, a pet can help reduce stress, lower blood pressure, ease loneliness, and in some cases increase physical activity. For example, by owning a dog, physical activity and social interactions may increase from active dog walking and conversations with other pet owners.

With the many benefits that pets can offer seniors, it is worth exploring the different types of animals that would be the best fit. Animals like certain dogs, cats, fish and birds make great pet companions for seniors due to their size and maintenance level. Also, depending on your lifestyle, there are certain breeds that would suit you best.

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How To Choose A Pet

To make selecting a pet easier, we created a guide to help you find the best pet companions for seniors. Start by using the flowchart to find the best type of animal that will match your lifestyle. After you’ve found your match, browse through the most popular breeds by animal type below. Keep in mind that there are other factors to consider when selecting a pet such as financial capabilities, whether or not the pet is available in your area, and more.

Browse through the pet types by scrolling down or clicking on each symbol within the flowchart.

Dog Breeds for Seniors

Dogs make the perfect pet companions for active seniors. Since dogs require regular exercise, they’re perfect for those who would like to implement more active lifestyle choices into their daily routines.

When choosing a dog, be sure to choose a breed that fits your lifestyle. That’s why we’ve picked the top five dog breeds for seniors including: Scottish Terriers, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, Corgis, Pugs, and Maltese. These breeds are known for their easy temperaments, low-maintenance qualities and petite sizes. In addition to these factors, you’ll also want to consider the age of the pet you’ll want to adopt since younger pups will require more attention and senior dogs may already be trained and are less active.

Dogs

Scottish Terrier

  • Lifespan: 12-15 years
  • Size: 10-11 inches | 18-22 lbs
  • Colors: Black, Brindle, Wheaten
  • Personality: Cheerful, affectionate, and alert. They serve well as barking watchdogs and require at least an hour of exercise daily. Recommended for experienced dog owners.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

  • Lifespan: 9-14 years
  • Size: 12-13 inches | 13-18 lbs
  • Colors: Black & Tan, Tri-color, Blenheim, Ruby
  • Personality: Intelligent, obedient, and are easily trained. They are sweet and gentle enough around children and are great for novice dog owners.

Corgi

  • Lifespan: 12-14 years
  • Size: 10-12 inches | 22-31 lbs
  • Colors: Fawn, Black & Tan, Black & White, Red, Blue, Sable
  • Personality: Playful, outgoing, and obedient. They are easy to train and adaptable to either country or city life.

PUG

  • Lifespan: 12-15 years
  • Size: 10-13 inches | 14-18 lbs
  • Colors: Fawn, Black
  • Personality: Intelligent, obedient, and are easily trained. They are sweet and gentle enough around children and are great for novice dog owners.

Maltese

  • Lifespan: 12-15 years
  • Size: 8-10 inches | 6-9 lbs
  • Colors: White
  • Personality: Affectionate, playful, and intelligent. They don’t like being left alone and are active indoors, following loved ones or playing with toys.

Cat Breeds for Seniors

Cats make great pets for seniors who prefer to stay home and relax. Since cats have a naturally high metabolism, indoor playtime is generally enough exercise for them.

When choosing a cat, choose a breed that aligns well with your lifestyle. The cat breeds we’ve found that are best for older adults include: American Shorthair, Burmese, Himalayan, Munchkin, and Persian. These five cat breeds were chosen since they are affectionate and are moderately active, at most. To keep your cat healthy and stimulated, make sure to provide them with multiple toys.

Cats

American Shorthair

  • Lifespan: 15-20 years
  • Size: 10-14 inches | 10-16 lbs
  • Colors: White, Silver, Cameo, Black, Brown
  • Personality: Easy-going cats that don’t demand much and are low maintenance. They are intelligent and moderately active as well.

Burmese

  • Lifespan: 10 - 17 years
  • Size: 14-19 inches | 9-13 lbs
  • Colors: Sable, Champagne, Platinum, Blue
  • Personality: Curious, playful, sociable, and active cats. They can be slightly demanding and don’t like being left alone for extended periods.

Himalayan

  • Lifespan: 15-18 years
  • Size: 10-12 inches | 8-13 lbs
  • Colors: Seal, Blue, Chocolate, Lilac, Flame, Tortie, Cream
  • Personality: Affectionate, calm, and easy-going cats. They aren’t as active as other breeds and don’t need constant attention.

Munchkin

  • Lifespan: 12-14 years
  • Size: 7-8 inches | 5-9 lbs
  • Colors: Every color
  • Personality: Playful, outgoing, and moderately active. They are affectionate, people-oriented, and love to cuddle.

Persian

  • Lifespan: 10-18 years
  • Size: 10-15 inches | 7-11 lbs
  • Colors: White, Silver, Golden, Shaded, Smoke, Tabby
  • Personality: Laid back, affectionate, and shy. They are best kept inside at all times and have a low activity level.

Bird Breeds for Seniors

If you prefer less cleanup and would like to enjoy lovely sounds within your home, birds are a great choice. Birds can sometimes be taught to whistle or speak depending on the breed.

The bird breeds we’ve included share a sociable personality, so they should ideally be kept in pairs. The bird breeds that are best for seniors are: Budgies (Parakeets), Canaries, and Zebra Finches. Each breed is available in a variety of colors and only require the space of a medium sized cage or larger.

Birds

Budgie (Parakeet)

  • Lifespan: 5-8 years
  • Size: 6-8 inches
  • Colors: Every color
  • Personality: Very sociable, friendly, active, and intelligent birds. They are easy to care for and easy to train.

Canary (Parakeet)

  • Lifespan: 5-10 years
  • Size: 4-8 inches
  • Colors: Yellow, White, Green, Blue, Cinnamon, Fawn
  • Personality: Very sociable, active, and friendly birds. They are easy to maintain and train and are generally quieter than other birds.

Zebra Finch

  • Lifespan: 2-5 years
  • Size: About 4 inches
  • Colors: Grey, Fawn, White, Beige, Cream, Dark Cream, Charcoal
  • Personality: Active and best in pairs or small groups. They shouldn’t be handled or allowed out of their cage and can’t be taught to talk or do tricks.

Fish Breeds for Seniors

For a pet that doesn’t make any noise and has a relatively easy cleanup compared to others, opt for a fish. Watching fish swim around in an aquarium actually reduces stress, according to IFLSCIENCE.

Some fish require a lot of upkeep depending on the water type, tank size, and other needs. The fish breeds we’ve included are peaceful and generally easier to maintain compared to other breeds. These breeds include: Siamese Fighting Fish (Bettas), Goldfish, and Tetras. It is best to keep your fish in an aquarium instead of a small bowl to ensure they have enough space and for a better viewing experience.

Fish

Siamese fighting fish (Betta)

  • Lifespan: 3-5 years
  • Size: 2.8 inches
  • Colors: Every color
  • Personality: Peaceful depending on their tankmates. They’re aggressive towards other bettas and other large-finned fish. It is best if they are kept in their own tank away from other fish.

Goldfish

  • Lifespan: 5-10 years
  • Size: 4 inches
  • Colors: Red, Orange/Gold, White, Black/Bronze, Calico
  • Personality: Social and peaceful fish that can live for extended amounts of time given proper care and breeding.

Tetra

  • Lifespan: 3-10 years
  • Size: 1-2 inches
  • Colors: Every color
  • Personality: Peaceful and best kept in a small school of at least five, depending on the tank size.

After you’ve found your perfect match, visit your local shelter or pet store to find your beloved pet. Remember to do your research to make sure that owning a pet is right for you.

An alternative for those who are not able to own pets is a therapy dog that can come to your home with a certified handler. Pets can be the best companions for seniors and paired with a medical alert system, you can feel relaxed, safe, and secure at all times.

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