The unconditional love from a companion dog brightens seniors’ days, weeks, months—and, in many cases, years. In the long run, owning and caring for a furry companion results in decreased stress levels and lower blood pressure for elderly pet parents. Caring for a dog can also give seniors similar benefits to those they get from companion care.
Seniors reap the health and emotional benefits of caring for a pooch by choosing a breed that fits into their relaxed lifestyle. Like elderly folks, dogs have daily needs, too. Older people should be able to provide adequate care for the dog they invite into their life.
Companion dogs require daily exercise, regular healthcare and frequent grooming. A senior who chooses to own a pet should be physically fit enough to walk the dog, lift the dog for car trips to the vet and have nimble hands to perform grooming tasks, including bathing the animal.
Purebred dogs display certain characteristics, many of which are predictable. When researching dog breeds, seniors are best off choosing a breed that is smaller in size, possesses moderate energy levels and adapts well to the less-energetic routines of their elderly owners.
Mixed breed dogs and shelter dogs are also good choices for seniors if they assess the dog’s energy levels and care requirements prior to bringing the animal home. Some dogs may have pre-existing medical problems, like diabetes or back issues, requiring expensive visits to the vet.
Puppies are cute, but their boisterousness is a handful, especially for seniors. Pups are high-energy, attention-seeking animals, requiring constant monitoring each day. Plus, puppies lack housetraining. Finding an older dog that is housetrained allows seniors to leisurely enjoy the animal’s company.
Older pet owners should consider choosing a dog breed that requires minimum exercise. Dogs with lower energy levels need to be briefly walked once or twice a day—which keeps both the senior and animal healthy. Plus, these dogs are likely to cuddle up with their owners on the couch.
A small dog is ideal for seniors. When they jump, these animals are less likely to knock down their owners. When walking a smaller dog, seniors rarely have to worry about the animal pulling hard on the leash. An added bonus is that smaller dogs have less expensive healthcare costs.
Tiny and cuddly, Maltese dogs weigh only four to seven pounds, making them the perfect lap dogs. Given their lengthy life expectancy of 15 to 18 years, Maltese dogs will serve as faithful companions for years to come. With their keen intelligence, these dogs respond well to training.
Maltese dogs come with baggage. Glaucoma, “shaker dog syndrome” and liver defects are common health problems that plague this dog breed. Plus, given the long hair of this hypoallergenic breed, seniors should be prepared and able to groom Maltese dogs regularly.
Gentle and affectionate, pugs make lovable companions for seniors. Slightly heavier (14 to 18 pounds) than Maltese dogs, pugs live for 13 to 15 years. Being a short-haired breed, pugs require minimum grooming. Even though pugs are low-maintenance, they engage their owners with their big personality.
Breathing issues (due to their snub noses) prevent pugs from participating in strenuous physical activities. These dogs are also known to develop eye issues. Being voracious eaters, pugs should be regularly weighed. Other than these minor health problems, pugs are generally healthy.
3. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
Seniors who prefer a moderately active lifestyle will do well with a dog breed that requires the same. Take Cavalier King Charles Spaniels on long walks or allow them to run free in dog parks. Gentle and friendly, these active dogs are ideal companions for seniors who have a backyard.
Despite their good nature, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is prone to several health issues, like heart conditions, neurological problems and eye diseases. Given the animal’s long fur, which is susceptible to matting, seniors should be prepared to frequently groom and brush the dog.
Loyal and intelligent, the poodle is a favorite among seniors. Available in a range of sizes, the smaller ones (Toy Poodles and Miniature Poodles) weigh anywhere from 6 to 17 pounds. Poodles require plenty of socialization, physical activity and interaction to stay contented.
Poodles, while displaying a nervous temperament, are a generally healthy breed, limiting trips to the vet. However, outings to a professional groomer are a must, given these animals’ thick fur. Poodles’ hypoallergenic fur is ideal for seniors who suffer from pet-related allergies.
5. Scottish Terrier
Scotties are small in size, feature a hypoallergenic coat and are independent dogs. These dogs weigh anywhere from 18 to 22 pounds. Energetic, the Scottish Terrier enjoys daily walks. This breed is also fond of digging, given their history of pursuing burrowing animals, like badgers.
Scotty Cramp is a minor muscular condition that may erupt after exercise or excitement. Severe symptoms may warrant a trip to the vet; however, mild instances of the cramp are nothing to fret over. In general, the Scottish Terrier experiences very few health problems.
Seniors living in the warm climes of Palm Beach and West Palm Beach have several opportunities for walking a companion dog and ensuring the animal stays active. While dogs make excellent companions, a human touch also adds to the quality of an elderly individual’s life.
Caregivers from Assisting Hands Home Care are instrumental in improving crucial social opportunities for seniors. As dedicated companion care providers, we offer pleasant companionship to our elder care recipients to ward off loneliness and isolation and provide safe transportation to senior centers.
As a reputable home care agency, our service providers also help seniors with the activities of daily living, such as bathing, grooming, meal preparation and light housekeeping. To promote stability outdoors, we’ll even accompany your elderly loved one when he or she walks her dog.
When aging in place is important to the senior in your life, consult Assisting Hands Home Care for our dedicated elder care services. We pride ourselves on compassionately assisting the elderly living in the surrounding communities of West Palm Beach, Florida.