Written by Cindy of Our Dog Friends.

Ali’s Answers offers pet advice, hints and tips for the benefit of both pet and owner, using her degree in Animal Behaviour and Welfare. Contact Ali for more info today!

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Owning a pet can be an absolute joy and benefit to your health. Entering your senior years doesn’t mean you have to forgo having a loving pet, but it does mean you should take some extra care and time finding your next best friend.

Benefiting From a Pet

Research shows that animals have a positive effect on emotional health. Not only can furry friends provide companionship to seniors but also a sense of purpose. Pets can help you feel relaxed and safe.

Owning a pet benefits your physical health. Caring for another being keeps you active, alert and social. Evidence cited by the American Heart Association suggests that dog parents even have lower cholesterol and blood pressure. The British Heart Foundation suggests that dog owners have a lower risk of cardiovascular disease.

If you can’t adopt, you can also think about starting a pet sitting business in your senior years. Pet sitting responsibilities can include feeding the pet, playing with the pet, letting the pet outside, and taking the pet to the vet if he’s sick or injured. You can also offer dog-walking services, which is very much in demand these days.

Not only will you benefit mentally and physically from being around pets, you can make a little extra income as well!

Preparing Your Home

Whether you live in a house, a condo, an apartment or an assisted living community, you need to verify pet policies. You may be subject to restrictions such as size, species/ breed, and number of animals. Some facilities also want details before an adoption process.

It’s vital to make your home safe for your pet; because every pet is different, it’s best to take it slow while your new buddy adjusts to their new environment. You could start by limiting the areas in which your pet is allowed, until you know their behaviour better. Ensure to take steps like securing medications, putting away valuables, and removing choking hazards to pet-proof your home.

Selecting the Right Pet

It’s important to select the right pet for your lifestyle. Before you fall in love, make a list of traits you’re looking for. Be honest and identify an ideal species, age, size, temperament and activity level.

Once you have a wish list, it’s time to start looking. Across the United States, nearly seven million pets enter shelters annually. In the UK, approximately 3.4 million pets entered shelters in this past year. With older animals often being the most difficult to re-home. Some shelters offer senior pets for senior citizens adoption specials, so consider starting your search locally.

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You can also look for a reputable breeder; a good breeder can help familiarise you with the traditional traits of your desired pet, and walk you through the process of bringing the pet home. Contrary to popular belief, you can even find adult animals at some breeding facilities.

Budgeting for your Pet

Some pets are more costly than others and the size of the breed will also be a factor in costs. When making your selection, be sure to budget for everyday essentials. Expenses include (but not limited to) health care and insurance, food and bowls, toys, bedding/ crates/ enclosures, and (depending on the animal) training classes.

Photo credit: Ali of Ali’s Answers

You should also be prepared for incidental costs. Your pet can get injured or damage items around your home. You can take all the precautions for your furniture, like adding anti-scratch tape, using a bitter spray, and blocking off areas, but accidents still happen.

Many accidents can be corrected for the right price. For example, scratching or potty-training mishaps may result in the need for furniture upholstery services; this could be expensive, depending on the furniture’s type, size, design, fabric, and whether anything needs to be custom-made.

Planning for the Future

Thinking about the future when you select your pet is wise; deciding to appoint a designated person to care for your pet if something were to happen to you, meaning that you were no longer capable of caring for your pet. Some people choose to include their pet in their estate planning, too.

Adding a pet to your life may be the best decision you ever make.

Photo credit: Ali of Ali’s Answers

Start the steps to bring a new best friend home today. Don’t forget to check out Ali’s Animal Answers for any questions you may have!

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