Seniors and Pets
A Perfect Match
Here at the Michigan Humane Society, we see countless homeless animals come through our doors every year, looking for that special someone to provide them with a loving home. But this relationship isn’t just a one-way street. Pets bring something extra to our lives– a joy, playfulness, and sense of purpose that simply can’t be measured.
Pets can also help combat many of the unique challenges that seniors face. For those facing difficult health issues, pets have been shown to provide wonderful benefits for our physical and mental health. Studies have proven that pets help reduce stress and anxiety levels, which has a positive effect on blood pressure and heart rate. Because pets also need walking, grooming and cleaning—not to mention lots of play—pets can also keep seniors active. A daily walk with your pooch or playing with your kitty can do wonders for your mood and your overall health.
A furry pal also does wonders for those who may be struggling with loneliness and depression. Pets can help keep us active, getting us out of the house every day whether it’s to take the dog for a walk, buying food or taking our four-legged friend to get a little bit of extra training! It’s a great way to meet new people. But pets are more than just a conversation starter. We all know the unconditional love and loyal companionship they bring to our lives. And as a pet owner myself, I can tell you that my buddy is always there for me, even when I’ve had a bad day!
Pet ownership is a big responsibility and before you consider finding a new furry friend, you should consider a few things. First, your lifestyle – how much time do you have to devote to your new pet? If you’re often away from home you may not want to adopt a younger pet who needs more supervision. Second, consider your living arrangements. If you have a smaller place, adopting a Great Dane may not be the best choice. And finally, can you afford the cost of care of this animal? Between veterinary care, food, and toys, costs can sometimes add up. But if this is the only concern keeping you from that four-legged friend, the Michigan Humane Society has a number of programs for low-income pet owners, including a free pet food bank, low-cost vaccinations and sterilization, low-cost microchipping, veterinary care and so much more.
If you don’t think you can make a long-term commitment to a pet then another option is becoming a foster pet parent! Many animal welfare facilities have foster programs for pets who need a bit of extra time and care before being adopted. Often, these organizations will provide all the supplies, food and training needed. All you need to provide is a loving home!
So, you’ve decided to adopt, but are wondering which animal is right for you? Well, start by considering their care needs. Both cats and dogs make wonderful pets – cats are usually calmer and quieter than dogs, and are more “self-sufficient,” while dogs are more active and require more directed exercise and attention. Also, consider a small and furry pet. A rabbit, guinea pig or even a hamster can make a great companion!
Keep in mind the age of the pet. As mentioned before, younger animals can be energetic to the point of being hyper, so keep that in mind when you see that adorable puppy or kitten tugging at your heartstrings. Many seniors have reported that older pets are a great fit since they are usually calmer, easier to handle, and already well-trained.
Finally, consider your living situation. If you believe you may need to move into a senior living facility, be sure to research facilities that are pet-friendly, or have a trusted friend or family member who would be willing to care for your pet in case of emergency. Generally, it is more likely that these facilities allow cats than dogs.
With so many homeless pets out there, please also consider adopting from an animal shelter or rescue organization. These animals are wonderful pets with so much love to give, and who are often in these facilities through no fault of their own. Many animals that arrive at the Michigan Humane Society are here because they got lost, or because their owner passed away, moved or was no longer able to care for their animal.
Adopting a homeless animal will not only change the life of an animal in need, it will do so much to change your life as well. Consider adopting today—your new best friend is waiting for you!