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When you're looking for senior living for you or your loved one, whether a family pet is allowed may be a deciding factor as you choose a facility or retirement community. If you have a pet where you currently live and want to bring it into your new senior living arrangement it's important to recognize that not all pets may be allowed at all facilities. The type of facility you choose can play a big part in whether your pet can come along too.

Our editor Taylor Shuman's grandma with her furry friend Reggie

Our editor Taylor Shuman's grandma with her furry friend Reggie

Are Pets Allowed in Nursing Homes?

Some nursing homes not only allow residents to have pets in their rooms, but also allow pet visitations if someone else is caring for the pet. There are other nursing homes that may restrict the types of pets their residents can have by size. Then there are some that do not allow any pets under any circumstances due to safety concerns for all of the residents. Policies vary from facility to facility so it’s best to ask ahead of time as you’re considering different living arrangements.

If you didn't have a pet prior to moving into a new facility, it is not recommended to adopt one beforehand. Many nursing home and care facilities are not keen on the idea of new or untrained pets. Also, keep the needs of your pet in mind. A house cat may do just fine in a nursing home if it is allowed while a dog that's used to a yard to roam may not be best suited for this type of living.

For those nursing homes that do not allow their residents to have pets on a regular basis for one reason or another, pet therapy programs may still be offered. Many facilities recognize the benefits pets can have on their residents and bring in these programs as part of their care packages.

Are Pets Allowed in Assisted Living Facilities?

Assisted living communities also have their own rules when it comes to pets. Some do not allow them at all, while others restrict by breed. You may also be restricted by the size of your pet and how many pets you wish to have with you.

Some assisted living communities have a “community pet” that all residents share. This allows residents to enjoy the benefits of having a pet while letting the community uphold certain rules it sees fit.

If having a pet is a deciding factor for your senior living, ask what the community's policy is to see if you would be allowed to bring along your animal.

Are Pets Allowed in Retirement Communities?

If you have a pet you'll most likely to be able to bring it with you to a retirement community. Most active retirement communities allow their residents to have pets for the fact that they can take care of them by themselves. Staff does not need to take the time to care for the pet because the owner is able to do it.

But, the number of pets may be restricted depending on the community. Two is usually the standard. All pets must be up to date on their rabies shot and owners have to take responsibility if the animal were to harm someone else. As with the other living options, talk to those in charge beforehand so that you can make an informed decision.

Benefits of Pets for Seniors

Many senior living facilities recognize the fact that pets can prove to be just the right medicine for its residents. From actual medical benefits to companion perks, having a four-legged friend nearby could be one of the best things you can do for yourself in your golden years.

Staying Active

Keeping active is just as important for seniors as it is for anyone else. Having a pet to take out and walk can help keep seniors active. While you may not be motivated to get out and go for a walk on your own, the fact that Fido needs to go out will certainly get you moving. Studies have shown seniors with dogs are more physically active than their non-pet owning counterparts. This is why having pets can also help battle obesity.

Depression Deterrents

As we get older and the demands of everyday life slow down, some of us become depressed because the life we were used to for so long has changed. Having a pet to take care of gives seniors a new purpose and can help ward off depression. Plus, the added companionship a pet brings can help seniors avoid those lonely feelings, which can also lead to depression.

Making New Friends

It's never too late to make new friends. For some seniors, having a pet allows them to do just that. Pets can spark conversation between owners and ultimately lead to new friendships.

Pet Protection

Pets bring an added layer of protection for many seniors. For those who live alone, a pet can make seniors feel as though someone is watching over them, especially if a stranger approaches.

Medical Boosters

Having a pet may be just what the doctor ordered…literally. Studies show that having a pet can help lower cholesterol and blood pressure as well as decrease stress. Pets have proven to increase serotonin levels, which make us feel good, and decrease cortisol levels, which leads to stress.

Best Companion Pets for Seniors

While the type of animal you get is a matter of personal preference, when it comes to dogs, the breed can make a difference. Here are some veterinarian suggestions when it comes to the best companion dogs for seniors.

  • French Bulldog – These make solid companions because of their disposition and because they make favorable walking partners.
  • Poodle – This breed is often small and easy to maintain for seniors.
  • Schipperke – These dogs are sturdy and often easy to care-for.
  • Maltese – This breed is known to be attentive to its owners which is a plus for seniors. It also doesn't shed a lot so there's not much to clean in that department.
  • Pembroke Walsh Corgi – More active seniors may enjoy this breed that is on the move and often quite determined.

There are also certain cat breeds that may be better for seniors than others. These include:

  • Birman cat – These cats like to play but they’re not over the top when it comes to activity which can be perfect for seniors.
  • Ragdoll cat – This breed is very laid back and affectionate.
  • Russian blue – These cats tend to like to be close to their owners and usually stay out of trouble.
  • Persian cat – Known for affection, this breed bonds with its owners and is often very loyal.
  • Burmilla cat – These cats are active but are also affectionate with their owners.

No matter which type of pet you choose remember to choose one that you can maintain and take care of on your own or with minimal aid.

Is There Pet Friendly Assisted Living Near Me?

If you are looking for pet friendly senior living, call us on our helpline and we can help you to find the right home for you and your animal companion.

Reviewed By

Scott Witt

Elder Home Care Expert

Scott founded Select Home Care Portland in 2009 and has been helping seniors live their best life at home or in their local senior community ever since. As an advocate for seniors, the primary philosophy has been to listen, educate and provide… Learn More About Scott Witt

Written By

Jeff Hoyt

Editor in Chief

Since graduating from Harvard with an honors degree in Statistics, Jeff has been creating content in print, online, and on television. Much of his work has been dedicated to informing seniors on how to live better lives. As Editor-in-Chief of the personal… Learn More About Jeff Hoyt

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