More than 40% of seniors report experiencing loneliness, a staggering statistic that makes caretakers want to take action to prevent their loved ones from feeling lonely. If you are a caregiver to an elderly loved one, you may be willing to try anything to keep your parents or relatives from feeling depressed.
One question caretakers everywhere often wonder is whether they should get their senior a pet. Keep reading to learn whether a dog is a right option for your loved one.
Should An Elderly Person Get a Dog?
We all know that dogs are man’s best friend, but did you know that in addition to providing companionship, dogs may also help us maintain a healthy heart? A study by the Mayo Clinic demonstrates an association between dog ownership and heart health.
Research shows that having pets greatly benefits older adults. In addition to companionship, pets can help ease pain, keep aging adults more active, and make people more sociable.
When we have another living being to care for, it often takes our minds away from our own pain, and that is true for seniors, as well. Pets, especially dogs, give our loved ones routines that keep them active and give them meaningful tasks throughout their day.
While there are many benefits to seniors owning dogs, it’s also important to recognize that adding a dog to the household may not always be the best decision. Dogs can be physically demanding (especially large breeds), they can get costly (especially with vet bills), and sometimes health issues may make it difficult to properly care for a dog.
While there are many physical and emotional health benefits to owning a dog, there are also potential downsides. It is always best to go over the pros and cons of owning a dog before getting one for your elderly loved one.
5 Best Companion Dogs for Seniors
If you’ve decided that getting a dog is best for your loved one, the next step is to find the perfect match! Young puppies are often not ideal for older adults because they require a lot of time and energy. Some breeds may also not be ideal due to their size, strength, or even grooming requirements.
Here are 5 of the best dog breeds for seniors!
1. Shih Tzu
Shih Tzus are great companion dogs for seniors thanks to their low-to-moderate energy and small size. These happy-go-lucky dogs are affectionate and gentle enough to be around children and the elderly. They do well with short walks, which can help keep your loved one more active.
Shih Tzus do have high-maintenance coats that need to be brushed frequently if kept long. Because they have hair rather than fur, they will need trips to the groomer for haircuts. If your older loved one does not have transportation, you might need to be responsible for taking this particular breed to the groomer.
Chihuahuas are small, spunky little dogs who are known for their playfulness and confidence. Weighing in at 6 pounds or less, these compact dogs are suitable for small apartments. Chihuahuas are more active than Shih Tzus, so it might be best to look for an adult rather than a puppy unless someone else can dedicate the time to training and exercising a younger dog.
Chihuahuas are great lap dogs and make good dogs for older people because they love to be doted upon. They come in short-coat and long-coat varieties; long-haired chihuahuas require slightly more grooming.
Pugs are one of the best companion dogs for seniors because they were originally bred to be lap dogs. This short-coated breed is a little heavier than both Shih Tzus and Chihuahuas, but they weigh less than 20 pounds, so you should still be able to carry them.
Pugs are a low-energy breed that will love spending time snuggling with you on the couch. They are a smart, friendly, and relatively calm breed suitable for small apartments.
Havanese are outgoing and intelligent dogs with low-to-medium energy and are a great dog breed for seniors. They are social, trainable dogs that adapt well to most situations. Their one downside is that they can be prone to separation anxiety and don’t like to be left alone. However, this often works out well for seniors who spend most of their time at home.
While their energy requirements are low, they do have higher grooming needs similar to Shih Tzus. While they do need to be brushed and groomed, they do not shed excessively, which is great if allergies are a concern.
5. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are a great dog breed for seniors because they are quiet, small, and make great lap dogs. One of their favorite activities is snuggling with their owners, although they are also down for adventures around the neighborhood. They get along well with everyone, including children, adults, and other pets.
Cavaliers are a more active breed compared to some of the dogs on this list, which means they do best in a home with seniors who have a yard. Despite their silky, feathery coat, Cavaliers do not require extensive grooming like Shih Tzus and Havanese.
Senior Health Care Solutions Understands the Importance of Companionship
While there are many dog breeds suitable for seniors, sometimes our loved ones need a level of care that goes beyond companionship. At Senior Health Care Solutions, we know the importance of great elderly care.
If your aging loved one needs additional help beyond your capabilities or requires specialized care, our skilled nursing staff provides great relief to the elderly and their caregivers. Our personal care services allow seniors to maintain their independence at home (perhaps with their dog) but still receive the assistance they need to complete personal tasks.
Reach out to Senior Health Care Solutions to learn more about all of our senior care options.