The 11 Best Companion Pets for Seniors

Pets foster feelings of affection and purpose, making them great companions for seniors. The connection between a pet and its owner is a strong bond that has numerous benefits that promote a sense of well-being

When it comes to finding a great pet companion, dogs and cats typically come to mind. But with so many types of breeds to choose from, you may wonder which ones make the best companion pets for seniors.

At Ginger Cove, we understand the benefit of companion pets, which is why we’re proud to be a  pet-friendly campus. Let’s explore all the health benefits of pet ownership and which furry friends could be a perfect fit for your lifestyle. 

What Are the Benefits of Pets for Seniors?

One of the best reasons to adopt a pet is all the ways a pet can benefit your health. A DePaul University study found that pet ownership, especially dog ownership, resulted in three major health benefits for senior citizens

  • Increased physical activity
  • Increased social interactions
  • Decreased feelings of loneliness

Pets usually require a care routine. Having this kind of schedule can benefit seniors because they see their companion animal first thing in the morning – and their pet is more than excited to see them.

Dog owners will likely engage in daily walks, which will always excite their furry friends. Exercising daily can benefit cardiovascular health and may also have a positive effect on your blood pressure.

When that’s combined with always having your best friend at your side, you’ll have something to look forward to every day. 

The Best Companion Pets for Seniors

When you’re considering whether you want to take on the responsibility of caring for a pet, factoring in the pet’s age could help you find your answer. Adopting an older pet to avoid the training phase, whether it’s a puppy or a kitten, could help make your choice easier. 

Dogs and cats make fantastic animal companions – but which one is right for you? When it comes to dogs, it’s important to keep exercise and size in mind. While there are plenty of friendly dog breeds, remember there are some that require more exercise and training. Larger dogs may be more difficult to control because of their strength and could pose a bigger falling risk.

Once you know you want a dog with a certain energy level and of a certain size, you can compare the types of breeds that fit your description. 

Best dog breeds for seniors

  1. Boston Terrier. These dogs are relatively small, affectionate, and playful. While Boston Terriers are more on the high-energy side, they are trainable. They also shed less than other dogs. 
  2. Bichon Frise. With a lifespan of about 15 years, the Bichon Frise is known for loving  its owners and being good with people. They’re hypoallergenic, which means they’ll cause fewer allergic reactions. These dogs will always be at your side and happy to go where you go. 
  3. Maltese. The perfect lap dog – your Maltese will likely want to lounge in your lap when you’re sitting down, which is perfect because these small dogs weigh just under seven lbs. While they do need a daily walk, it likely won’t need to be a long one. 
  4. West Highland White Terrier. These dogs love to get attention and will happily greet friends and family, too. They may be more vocal than other dogs but are always ready to play.  
  5. Miniature Schnauzer. These friendly, low-shedding dogs are ready to be wherever you are. Whether you’re having a day inside to read and relax or you’re heading out for a walk, your Miniature Schnauzer is up for it. They’re also hypoallergenic. 
  6. Golden Retriever. While these dogs are high energy and can grow to a larger size, their love for their owners and overall friendliness is unmatched. Active older adults looking for a loyal companion can always rely on a Golden Retriever. 

senior man nuzzling his cat

If you’re not looking for a dog as a companion pet, then a cat may be the right choice for you. Cats make perfect companion pets for seniors because many breeds are content to sit on your lap for hours and are okay with spending some time by themselves. 

Best cat breeds for older adults

  1. Birman. Their friendly, content demeanor makes it an ideal option for seniors. Because Birman cats are easygoing, they’re comfortable around visitors. 
  2. Siamese. A Siamese cat will love to play and show affection – so expect them to split their time with snuggling and playing fetch. Siamese cats are intelligent and vocal and will not hold back from communicating with you. 
  3. Russian Blue. According to the ASPCA, Russian Blue cats usually develop a strong bond with one person but are overall affectionate and have a calm demeanor. Be careful – these cats love food and may beg for more treats than what is healthy for them. 
  4. Bombay. There’s something special about the all-black cat. Bombays look like miniature panthers but are natural extroverts. They love attention and people. 
  5. American Wirehair. These laid-back cats are great animal companions because they’re happy to play and show affection but are also happy to entertain themselves. An American Wirehair will be just fine if you go out for the day. 

If having a dog or cat as an animal companion is more responsibility than what you’re looking for as a pet owner, you can also turn to lower-maintenance pets like birds or fish. 

Parakeets will bond with their owners and are vocal, playful companions. If you’re thinking a fish is better suited for your needs, a betta fish is a great option. These solitary fish have beautiful colors and will brighten up any room.

With all these options of the best pets for seniors to choose from, you’ll find the right companion for you in no time. 

Ginger Cove Welcomes You and Your Companion Pet 

Your best life is waiting for you at Ginger Cove. Take your dog for a walk to the water, or on any of the beautiful walking paths on our campus. You can easily relax with your cat on your lap in your spacious apartment

Ginger Cove is a pet-friendly, premier Life-Care Community offering independent living, assisted living, memory care, and skilled nursing. Call 410-670-7793 to schedule your tour and learn about making Ginger Cove your and your pet’s next home!


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