Best Pets for Senior Living

Posted on May 26, 2022

The Best Pets for Seniors & Apartment Living

Pets are more than just great companions – they’re family. Pets evoke positive emotions and provide seniors with love, comfort, and a sense of purpose. They even aid in physical health by lowering blood pressure, reducing stress, and getting their humans to go on daily walks. The benefits of having a loyal dog or cat by your side in a senior living community are boundless.

Often, seniors will already have a pet family member before they make the move to an independent living community. On the other hand, seniors may want to bring a new furry friend along for the ride to start their next chapters together. Whatever the case may be, it’s important to choose a pet that’s easy to care for and does not require a lot of training or maintenance.

Check out our list of the best pets for seniors below.

What to consider before moving to a pet-friendly senior living community

Whether you’re seeking a tried-and-true lap dog or cat, a dog that’s more active, or a pet of the bird or fish variety, there are several considerations to take into account before downsizing to a senior living apartment. 

1. Size

Many communities have a size limit when it comes to pets, so we recommend checking guidelines before making a move. Small dogs and pets are easier to care for and take up less space. Larger dogs may provide a greater sense of protection and cuddle time but are usually more of a handful when it comes to going on walks and playing. For even the most active older adults, being pulled on a leash or getting jumped on by a larger dog can be dangerous. If you don’t want to have to worry about your pet taking up much space at all, birds and fish remain happy in their cages and tanks; just be sure you have room for those. 

2. Age

An energetic puppy or kitten can reinvigorate your spirit but leave you exhausted at the same time. Consider adopting an older, more mature pet instead if you don’t already have one. They’re usually calmer, trained, and seeking mutual companionship. You’ll feel just as invigorated knowing that you’ve given an animal a new, loving home. 

3. Activity requirement

Pets are helpful in keeping seniors active, but overdoing it could be harmful to your health. Some dogs require more walks and playtime as well as bathroom breaks, so choose a pet that fits into your lifestyle. If you’re seeking a more active senior living lifestyle, a high-energy level pup could be right for you. If you’re really trying to embrace low-maintenance, relaxed living, choose a tamer companion.

4. Lifespan

When you move to a senior living community, you’re making more time for your well-being. If you’re bringing a pet along with you, you’ll need to consider their health needs too. It’s impossible to predict what issues will develop down the road if your pet is in good health now, but if your pet is starting to struggle before you transition to senior living, you may want to rethink bringing them with you. It can be tough, but allowing someone else to take care of your pet could be in both of your best interests. If you do decide to bring your pet with you, make sure they are thoroughly checked and cleared by a veterinarian prior to move-in. 

5. Pet-friendly community guidelines

Finally, it’s important to do your research on different pet-friendly senior living communities. Learn if there are any pet restrictions for size or breed. Make sure there are plenty of open spaces for walks and playtime. Ask if apartments and other residence types allow for easy outdoor bathroom duties and if pets are allowed in communal areas outside of your home. Choose a senior living community that makes you and your pet feel right at home. 

Five recommended pets for seniors

Now that you understand all that goes into pet-friendly senior living, check out our recommendations for the most suitable pets and breeds to bring with you.

1. Shih Tzu

Shih Tzus are a delightful small and cuddly dog breed for seniors. They are bred for ultimate companionship and love sitting with their human friends. If comfort is what you seek, Shih Tzus are sure to satisfy you. They do, however, require regular grooming, so keep that in mind.

2. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

These short-snouted pups are easy to train and loved for their sense of adaptability and calm temperament. They offer the perfect balance between affection and play and are just the right size, weighing in at around 15 lbs. on average.

3. Bichon Frise

Bichon Frises are smaller dogs that make a good choice for senior living pets. After all, dogs for seniors should be cute and easy to manage. Did we mention these fluffy friends are hypoallergenic? This means no shedding or sneezing and more time for cuddling.

4. Cats

Dogs may be the favorite for senior living pets, but cats are the ultimate low-key pets to have by your side. They only require basic care like feeding and grooming but otherwise can fend for themselves. Seniors love curling up with a good book and a cat on their lap. Some of the friendliest cat breeds for seniors are Birmans, Burmillas, and British Shorthairs.

5. Fish

Fill your tank with colorful fish and admire the relaxing scene within the aquarium’s walls. Having fish means occasional feeding and cleaning – and that’s it. You won’t have to spend money on care or take time out of your day to shower them with attention. Having fish is a great way to care for a pet without the hassle.

Pet-friendly living at The Highlands at Wyomissing®
At The Highlands, we hope that your future becomes brighter with the warmth of a loving pet by your side. Our thriving campus in Reading, PA, offers plenty of outdoor space and custom-designed residences to accommodate the needs of you and your furry friend.