Owning a pet in later life
From companionship and affection to daily support, there's plenty of reasons why owning a pet in later life can have a huge positive impact. This article will help you decide which type of pet is right for you and what you'll need to consider you make your decision.
Health & social benefits
Taking care of a pet can have significant benefits to your health and well-being, particularly if you live alone or don't see family and friends too often. Pets provide a source of love and friendship and can help you to relax, reducing your heart rate and stress levels. Certain conditions such as high blood pressure, depression and loneliness can be greatly improved from the love of a pet.
Pets can also help to improve our fitness. Walking a dog is a great way to increase the amount of daily exercise you do. Walking your dog is also an ideal way to chat to new people and build new friendships with other dog owners.
Which pet is right for you?
There's no doubt that the benefits of pet ownership to an older person are huge but owning a pet carries daily tasks and more responsibility. Different pets require more attention and upkeep than others so it's important to ask yourself some questions before deciding which one is right for you.
Can you provide regular exercise?
Dogs can be loyal companions but they need walking regularly. If you're less mobile and find getting around difficult, a pet which needs less exercise could be a better choice, unless someone can take care of the walking duties for you.
Do you have adequate outside space?
Dogs like to run and play so if you're thinking of looking after one you'll need to have enough space outside to cater for this. The size of your pet will also depend on your outside space, larger dogs need more room than smaller breeds. Pets such as rabbits and guinea pigs also require space outside for a hutch and need to be cleaned out around once a week.
Which personality is right for you?
It's a good idea to take into account breed traits and personalities before making your decision. Bigger dogs may seem like hard work but could be more mellow and easier to care for than a smaller breed with higher energy levels. Cats are a great stress-reliever and require a lot less attention than dogs.
Can you manage with grooming?
From bathing to brushing, keeping your pet well-groomed can be hard work. Conditions such as arthritis can also make grooming more difficult. If the simple tasks are too much, opt for a pet which requires little grooming maintenance.
Paying for your pet
Another big factor to think about before you choose a pet is your financial position. Considering it costs around £400 a year to feed a small dog, food bills can easily add up. There's also vets bills too. Annual vaccination boosters and flea and worm treatments cost about £50-100 each visit. Pet insurance will save you a lot of money if your pet becomes unexpectedly ill or has an accident. Find out more about Argos pet insurance here.
If something changes
What will happen to your pet if you're taken ill or have to move into sheltered accommodation? That's where The Cinnamon Trust can help. They offer foster care for pets whose owners need to spend time in hospital and long term re-homing if something happens to you or your living situation changes. If a family member or friend has volunteered to look after your pet if your circumstances change, make sure this is noted in your will. Knowing that your pet is in safe hands means you can focus on enjoying your time together.
The benefits of having a pet from Peter, 60
"Six years ago I was suffering with the shift into retirement. Winters really get me down, they always have, I think I have SAD. Plus I've never had full responsibility of anyone, not even my children, my wife led the way with all that.
When we got Ben, he was always going to be mine. Feeding, walking and caring for him was all on me. This forced me to think less inwardly about myself. It gave me purpose again and I've got fitter. The love that developed made it the most rewarding role I've ever taken on. He never judges and he lives in the present.
There are no grudges held, we can get through anything and he's made me more focused on the present. I think dogs should be prescribed on the NHS. Dog ownership just lifts your spirits."
- Quote provided by Age UK
Are you prepared for your new furry friend?
Shop our handy checklist to make sure you have everything you need to welcome your new companion home:
|Bowls & feeders||Bowls & feeders|
|Dog gates||Litter Trays|
|Clean-up||Cat flaps & doors|
|Grooming tools||Grooming tools|
|Carriers & Pens||Crates & Carriers|
|Leads & Collars||Scratching post|
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