It could be a special occasion in your elderly parent’s life and you are thinking a pet would be a perfect gift. Or maybe your elderly parent has had to undergo a tough life transition (e.g. retirement, widowhood) and you’re thinking the right pet might be able to help. Whatever the case, this article will help you weigh the pros and cons so you can make the best decision.

Let’s begin!

Close up of a puppy with its tongue out

The Pros of Getting a Pet For Your Elderly Parent

1. Pets Offer Companionship

Isolation and loneliness are common afflictions of those that are older—especially in the face of difficult life changes such as retirement, the loss of a partner, and so on. With the right pet, your elderly parent can have a constant and unconditional source of companionship to keep the feelings of loneliness away. 

2. Pets Help the Elderly Get Exercise and Sunshine

Your mom or dad will have more motivation to go to the park to catch some sun and fresh air if a canine companion is in need of regular walks. Small to medium-sized dogs can be a great option for this since they are easier to control. 

3. Pets Can Make the Elderly Feel Needed

It’s true that pets can take up some time and energy to maintain, regardless of what type of pet it is. But this can be a good thing as well. Because all pets need care, they can make an elderly person feel needed which then gives a sense of empowerment and added purpose.

4. Pets for Seniors Offer Stress Relief

Studies have shown that owning a cat or dog can lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Moreover, stroking a pet cat or dog is known to lower blood pressure and provide people with a sense of calm. And to top it all off, playing with a pet increases the levels of serotonin and dopamine in the brain, allowing a person to recover faster from stressful experiences. This is a pretty significant benefit of owning a pet.

5. Pets Can Help Make New Friends

This is especially true for dogs. Dogs allow people to start-up conversations more easily. You may have experienced this for yourself. During dog walks, you’re bound to get into a chat or two with fellow dog-owners or just other people who find your dog adorable. If your elderly parent(s) are relocating, they may benefit from having a bonafide conversation-starting canine companion to help them make friends!  

A cat and dog lying next to each other

The Cons of Getting a Pet For Your Elderly Parent

1. Pets Are a Change

The fact that pets offer some changes can be good or bad. But some elderly persons are set in their ways and are not very welcoming of changes to their environment. A new pet is a big change and this can rattle your elderly parent’s daily routine and lifestyle.

2. It Takes Energy to Care for Pets

There are many pets for seniors out there, each with their own level of required maintenance and care. You’ll need to take this into consideration when choosing a pet for your elderly parent because a high-maintenance pet may be too exhausting for them to care for. 

3. Pets Can Be an Injury Risk

For elderly persons (especially those with impaired vision), there is a risk of tripping over the pet if they are on the floor. An energetic pet’s playfulness can also ruin an elderly person’s balance and cause them to fall. 

4. Pets Are an Extra Consideration When Travelling

If your elderly parent likes to travel a lot, having a pet in his/her life will mean that they would need to include the pet’s care in all future travels. This can not only be an annoyance but costly.


We all want the very best for our elderly parents. If you have a question about this topic or anything related to planning your parent’s senior years, we’d be very happy to help. 

As one of the leading providers of full-service senior living transitions, we at Your Next Steps can offer our knowledge and expertise when it comes to planning the best for your parents’ retirement living and more. 

Contact us today!