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7 Best Pets for Seniors

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An older adult woman sitting on a couch with a dog beside her.

A companion is something that everybody wants. Everyone deserves love, acceptance, and support, after all. Whether you live independently, in a senior living community, or with your family, companionship can make all the difference in the world. Animals can be incredible companions, especially for seniors. That’s why our team at The Villages of Farragut has made a list of the 7 best pets for seniors!

The 7 best pets for seniors include:

  1. Dogs
  2. Cats
  3. Reptiles
  4. Rats
  5. Birds
  6. Rabbits
  7. Fish

The Benefits of Animal Companionship

As we age, companionship becomes increasingly important, and animals can fill a unique and precious role in the lives of seniors. A furry, feathery, or scaled presence can do absolute wonders for a person.

Animals provide unconditional love and acceptance, something that can be especially valuable for seniors who may be facing feelings of loneliness or isolation. Simply stroking a pet can lower blood pressure and stress levels, while the joy of interaction releases mood-boosting endorphins. This emotional support can be a powerful buffer against depression and anxiety, promoting a more positive outlook on life.

Pets receive love and care, while seniors gain companionship, emotional support, and a renewed sense of purpose. It’s a beautiful reminder that love and connection can come in all shapes and sizes, even with fur, feathers, or scales. So, what are the 7 best pets for seniors?

1. Dogs

Dogs, often referred to as “man’s best friend,” can be wonderful companions for seniors looking to combat feelings of loneliness and enrich their lives. Dogs are known for their loyalty and love, and they’re great for encouraging physical activity. Whether it’s a walk around the block or just a romp in the backyard, dogs can help keep their owners moving.

Plus, there’s a breed for every lifestyle, preference, and personality! There are gentle giants like the Great Dane, playful pups like the Golden Retriever, and low-maintenance options like the Chihuahua. Dogs can also provide a sense of security and protection for seniors living on their own—and they make great cuddling companions, too.

2. Cats

But what if you’re not looking for a high-maintenance ball of energy? If you’d prefer an animal that’s often easier to handle, a cat could be the way to go.

Cats are independent, easy to care for, and perfect for anyone who enjoys a quiet companion. Cats love to curl up next to their owners, and their purring actually has health benefits for humans. Studies have shown that the frequency of a cat’s purr can help:

  • Reduce stress
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Stimulate soft tissue recovery

And while your cat is helping keep you healthy, their playful antics can provide endless entertainment.

3. Reptiles

Even though their scales may be off-putting at first, reptiles can be amazing companions for seniors. They’re low-maintenance, don’t take up too much space, and can be absolutely fascinating to watch.

Reptiles offer plenty of benefits to seniors who may have limited room in their homes or don’t want too much physical stress in their lives. And there’s one thing many people don’t know: they’re hypoallergenic!

4. Rats

Rats have had a bad rap from most of human history, but we’ve come a long way from when they were known for spreading disease. While wild rats can still be problematic, a trained domesticated rat can be a great companion. Rats are incredibly clever and can be surprisingly loving.

They’re small, easy to handle, and don’t require too much space. They’re extremely suitable for a person looking for a loving friend who doesn’t want to commit to long walks or litter box cleanings. And don’t worry—cages, shavings, and rat food are a lot cheaper than you’d think.

5. Birds

Birds are colorful, lively, and full of personality. They can add a touch of nature to any home with their beautiful songs. Species like canaries or budgies don’t require a lot of space, and they’re relatively easy to care for.

Meanwhile, they’re also extremely intelligent and can be quite rewarding to train. You can spend hours teaching your new friend to do tricks, and you get to admire their beautiful plumage the entire time!

6. Rabbits

Rabbits are soft, cuddly, and just plain adorable. They’re also quiet and gentle, making them great companions. As long as they have a safe area to play and plenty of hay to munch on, they’re happy.

Rabbits can form very strong bonds with their owners, recognizing them by voice and coming when called. They thrive on routine and can be litter trained, which makes caring for them easier. Not to mention, watching a bunny hop around playfully can be a delightful and stress-relieving experience.

With proper socialization, rabbits can be incredibly affectionate pets, seeking out petting and interaction, all while providing comfort and companionship to their new best friend.

7. Fish

While they might not be cuddly, watching fish swim around in their tank can be incredibly calming. Fish come in quite literally every color on the spectrum, so it’s easy to spend an entire afternoon admiring the light reflecting from their scales.

For seniors seeking a more calming, relaxing animal to keep in their home, fish and other sea-dwellers might be the way to go. And who knows—maintaining a fish tank may be a fun and rewarding hobby, so you might find a new favorite pastime.

An older man smiling and looking down at a white kitten in his arms

Companionship for Seniors

At the end of the day, the best pet for any senior is one that fits their lifestyle and brings them joy. But it doesn’t just have to be a pet—if you or a loved one are looking for a senior living community that believes in supporting connection and support, reach out to our team at The Villages of Farragut. We’re here to help, so book a tour with us today!

Written by Melody Matney

Melody is our Executive Director. She leads with a genuine and warm heart for families and seniors with a background of impressive leadership among her peers and colleagues. She was born in Knoxville, grew up in the Rocky Hill area, and is a life-long resident of East Tennessee.

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