If you have a senior parent or loved one who receives homecare and has been asking for a dog, cat, or other pet, you may be wondering if it’s really a good idea or if you may be getting in over your head.
You may have heard that studies have shown that there are many benefits to owning, and even petting a dog or cat! Pet ownership has been found to help relieve stress, lower blood pressure and cholesterol, and boost overall happiness and well-being, and simply petting an animal may decrease cortisol, the hormone that causes stress, and boost serotonin which can lower your heart rate and better your mood.
Besides all that, there is a social component that comes along with owning an animal, which might help with seniors receiving homecare who feel isolated or lonely at home.
There are things to consider though before you rush out to get a furry feline or canine buddy for your senior at home.
Here are a few things to consider so that you can ensure that you are making a good decision and that your senior will be a responsible pet owner.
1. Will they be able to get them the exercise they need?
People who walk their dogs have been shown to be more likely to reach the recommended amount of physical movement than those who don’t, with one study finding that pet owners who took their dogs for walks got an average of 30 minutes more exercise per day than people who didn’t walk dogs.
It’s no secret that animals, especially dogs, need exercise. The amount and intensity will depend on their age and breed, but you also need to consider the activity level and capabilities of your senior at home. Will they be able to take them for walks, throw a ball, or provide them with the physical stimulation that they require?
2. Can they afford the expenses?
Pets are expensive, and sometimes people don’t realize just how much it costs to own an animal. If you get a puppy or kitten, there are extra costs incurred with surgeries to spay or neuter as well as the multiple rounds of vaccinations they will need. Add in bedding, toys, leases and collars, food and treats, litter or training, and grooming, and the cost to own a pet can certainly add up quickly. And just like humans, as pets age they usually start to need more visits for health issues as well.
3. Do they live in a suitable place?
Does your senior have an appropriate living area for the pet that they want? Do they have a yard with a fence, or a place to keep a litter box? If they rent, is their landlord okay with them having a pet?
4.Will they give it the attention it needs?
Is your senior capable of giving an animal the love and attention that it needs? Puppies require extra attention and care so make sure you think about the age and temperament of the pet that your senior chooses.