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Best Pets for Seniors – The Benefits of an Animal Companion

IHPS and Pets

At In Home Personal Services our caregivers have seen a wide variety of pets, but did you know that they can also provide care for your pet? One of our clients had a pet bird, and the caregiving team was of course there to provide care for the person, but they would also help with the bird which included taking the bird on walks!

Many of our clients know first-hand the wondrous effects owning a pet can have. Studies have found, time and time again, that pet ownership has significant benefits for the mental, physical, and emotional health. That’s right, it’s good for the soul! Pets tend to love unconditionally, and the love and friendship that emanates from pet companionship can not only reduce stress, but also bring about happiness and a nurturing spirit.

Before You Get a Pet

Figuring out which pet to get can be a fun process, but there are factors to keep in mind before you bring home/get the senior in your life a furry companion.


What type of animal does the person prefer? That little Chihuahua named Tiny Tim may be the calmest and sweetest dog ever, but if the person looking for a pet doesn’t really like dogs, then you’re already starting out on negative footing. The choice also depends on your connection with the animal.  Spending some time at the shelter or with the animal before choosing to bring it home is key to determining if you are both a good fit for each other.

Financial Situation

Owning a pet comes with costs.  Of course buying food is the most frequent expense, but don’t forget that medications and trips to the vet are some added expenses that can take its toll if you’re not prepared.  It’s important to take a look at your finances and decide if it’s the best time to invest in the care of a pet, or if you need to build a little bit to get to that step.

Longevity of the Pet

Some pets may have a long life span and it is vital to prepare for what is to happen to them should something happen to you.  Having family members or friends who would take in and care for your loved pet if you have to be in the hospital, for example, will help ease anxiety.

Baby Animals Vs. Adult Animals

Yes.  Kittens and puppies are the cutest. However, raising a kitten or puppy involves more time and money.  Additionally, the health of a baby animal can be unpredictable. Puppies and kittens can sometimes start out with one temperament and end with a different one as they learn and age, which may not be compatible with you and your lifestyle.  When you choose an adult pet you will have a better idea of their temperament as well as their health history.

Pros and Cons of Different Species


Dogs can help you become more active and socialize! Since dogs need exercise, playing with them inside or taking them on walks can increase the mobility of the senior taking care of them.  This also gives the chance for the owner to interact with others while walking around the neighborhood or at the dog park.


Owning a dog who is rambunctious can be more stressful then relaxing, and it’s important to look at the animal’s energy level and size. Large dogs can sometimes be too big for a senior adult and may unwittingly harm the owner. Smaller dogs, like the tea cup variety, can also prove to be a tripping hazard for senior adults.


Cats don’t require a lot of training or maintenance, which means that if your mobility is limited, a cat would be easy to care for.  Cats won’t need a daily walk, are not excessively loud, and are content to stay indoors or even sleep and cuddle in your lap (or in a box, on your computer keyboard, or directly on top of that book you’re reading).


Cats have a tendency to be protective, and will often claw at or bite the person threatening that which they are protecting.  Seniors who have skin issues or poor immune systems need to avoid getting scratched. The temperament of your cat may also be a challenge.  Spending time with the cat before bringing it home is important to make sure you are both a good fit.


Fish offer a no fur, allergy free possibility! Fish are relaxing and generally low maintenance animals.  With a daily feeding, weekly water testing, and monthly gravel vacuuming, taking care of a fish becomes something that can easily fit into your schedule while still giving you a pet to care for. The colors and movement of the fish make a calming environment, and decorating your tank will make your aquarium interesting and fun.


Depending on the type of fish, tank, and cleaning system, taking care of your fish can become more time consuming than you first imagined.  Initial set up for your particular fish, and getting the water just right, may be the most taxing part of the process.  Another challenge you may face is the death of your fish.  The life span of fish tends to be shorter than other pets, especially if the water temperature and treatment aren’t at the correct levels.


Birds are great pets because they come in smaller varieties, are playful, beautiful, and in some cases they even talk to you.

There are two main categories of birds: Psittacines and Passerines. The type of bird you’re looking for will determine which of the two groups you will lean towards.  Psittacines are birds with sturdy, curved beaks, can be tamed and are good at talking. (Ex. parakeet, cockatiel)

Passerines are birds with straight, short pointed beaks and are generally on the smaller side. (Ex. finches, canaries) These types of bird will often have beautiful chirps or songs.


Certain birds, like parrots, can be louder than other birds. So if you’re put off by all the chatter, a smaller bird like a parakeet would be a better fit. Also, getting proper care for your bird is important.  Birds can carry diseases so making sure they are seen by a veterinarian that specializes in birds will help make sure that your bird is healthy and stays healthy.

Whether you live by yourself, have family members who live with you, or have a companion caregiver a pet can become an added loved member of your household.

In Home Personal Services has locations in Illinois, Florida, and Texas. If you or a loved one is in need of in-home care please contact us through our e-mail or call us at 877.826.4477.