I will discuss the 8 best dogs for senior citizens, and the benefits seniors get from dogs both mentally and physically.
As you age, having a dog for a companion might be the best thing for you. There is medical proof that dogs can help elderly people be more healthy. They give you unconditional love that can bring healing and meaning to a sometimes lonely stage in life.
Dogs living with Senior Citizens can help improve the quality of life for many people.
Benefits From Dogs For Senior Citizens
Dogs help with loneliness and isolation for seniors who may have lost their spouse, or whose grown children have moved away. A dog can be a great source of companionship and friendship.
They also can help with isolation, since you will be forced to socialize either from vet visits or walking your dog.
A dog will keep you active. Dogs need exercise and they help seniors get exercise by walking and playing with them. Petting a dog can also reduce arthritis in hands.
A pet dog could also help with protection. Many times elderly people are more vulnerable for targeted crime. Thieves are less likely to rob a home with a barking dog.
Purpose in life. Your dog will give meaning to your life. They give you responsibilities and help you feel needed. They keep the mind sharp, since you will need to feed them, they need outdoor time and attention. This means the elderly person will need to think about the dog.
Medical Benefits from Having a Dog
Heart Health – The American Heart Association released a study showing that owning or interacting with dogs can help prevent heart disease. Heart rate, blood pressure and stress levels immediately drop when spending time with a dog.
Mental Benefits – In regard to Senior Citizens, just 15 minutes bonding with a dog sets off a chemical chain reaction in the brain, lowering levels of the fight or flight hormone called cortisol and increasing production of the feel-good hormone called serotonin.
Research has shown that dogs can help relieve the stresses of people with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. These patients can experience bouts of agitation. Dogs can help calm them down.
Lower Cholesterol – Long term, time with a dog can help lower cholesterol.
The 8 Best Dogs for the Elderly
There are several dogs that can make great companions for elderly people. I want to show you 8 that I believe would be a great pal for an elderly person.
The breed of the dog isn’t the only deciding factor though. All dogs have different personalities, and when you meet the dog, you need to make sure their personality fits well with you. Many of these dogs that are best for the elderly are the same dogs that are the best dogs for kids.
Poodles are one of the smartest dogs. They are great companions and easy to train, learning fast and adapt well to all kinds of households. Poodles are very devoted to their families and shed very little. They also come in several sizes, so you can find the size that is perfect for you.
This dog is perfect for active seniors. They are small in size, but have the energy of larger dogs. Average weight 24-30 pounds. Minimal grooming needs.
These dogs were bred to be a companion dog. They will be by your side through thick and thin. They are a tiny little package, usually weighing between 4-7 pounds. Maltese enjoy spending time on owner’s lap and going on short, easy walks.
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
This dog was also bred for companionship. They are happy to snuggle in your lap or go exploring with you. They are great family dogs and love to be the center of attention. They are most often happiest when snuggled up beside their owner. Weigh between 11-18 pounds.
They are a gentle and quiet dog with lots of personality. They don’t need tons of exercise, and love to be social. Pugs want to be part of the group.
This is the biggest dog on my list, and you have to make sure you have plenty of room for them. They are also the laziest on my list. They are huge couch potatoes. Adopting one from a greyhound track will get you a dog who has seen a lot and is well socialized. Average weight is between 60-80 pounds.
This dog is a great family companion. They love children, have moderate energy level, and low level of shedding. Play sessions or puzzle toys work great for mental and physical stimulation for this bred.
West Highland White Terrier
Also known as Westie. Average weight is 13-20 pounds. They are small, but not fragile. The Westie does require some grooming, but does not need to be trimmed. They are friendly and fairly low maintenance.
Other Things to Consider Before Getting a Dog
Before an elderly person gets a dog, they need to consider if they are up to the ability for caring for their dog in many ways.
Dogs need exercise or walks. Some breeds need much less than others, but all of them will need to get outside and walk around and go to the bathroom. Make sure you are physically able to do this before getting a dog.
Dogs can be expensive. Not only is there dog food to purchase, but you will need flea products, heart worm preventive, and vet visits. If you are living on a fixed income, you need to take a look at your expenses to make sure there is enough money left over for the additional dog expenses.
Can you still drive? Your dog will need to go to the veterinarian’s office and also possibly the groomers. If you can no longer drive, do you have someone who can help you? A family member nearby or friend that could help with this.
These best dogs for senior citizens are all easier to care for, and don’t require as much physical activity as other dogs. They mainly like being close to their owner. I think the benefits seniors get from dogs is immeasurable. Dogs can really pick up someone’s spirit.
Dogs have a natural instinct when a person needs love or a friend. They can boost your spirits just by wagging their tail at you or showing you how happy they are to see you when you get home. They make you think about them and make sure they are OK. Dogs help keep your mind active and your body active.
I see this firsthand every time my elderly mother sees my dog. He gives her such joy just watching him do whatever he does. He gives her something to think about and something to watch. She even asks about him every time we speak on the phone. She can be feeling poorly, and when she sees him, I see joy.
If you are currently in assisted living, or thinking in a few years you might be moving to assistant living is no reason to give up the thought of possibly getting a dog. More and more assistant living facilities are accepting dogs now as they see the benefits dogs can provide.
One more tip, you might want to consider getting an older dog. They have less energy, generally are already trained, and might be a better fit for a slower paced life.
Dogs for senior citizens can have really good benefits both mentally and physically. If you are elderly or if you are thinking a getting a dog for someone who is elderly, there are many for you to choose from that I would consider best dogs for the elderly.
If you have any questions or comments, please share them below. I am excited to hear what you think. Thanks for reading. You can follow justforyourdog.com on Pinterest, FaceBook or Twitter for all the latest updates on dogs.
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Thank you for the fantastic post! You are spot on. I have an elderly uncle who lives alone now after his significant other of 30 years passed away. He now owns two dogs and they give him companionship and a sense of purpose. Thanks for the great post!
Thanks for reading it and glad you enjoyed. Please follow or check back for other articles you might enjoy reading.
Really great article Marla! I’m a huge dog lover. In fact, I have seven or eight dogs at my house at any given time. I have poodles and Maltese’s and just love them. I so agree with you on the therapeutic effects dogs have on us all, but particularly senior citizens. I’m glad it is becoming more mainstream.
Thanks for reading Holly and I love the fact that you have 7-8 dogs at your house. I too am a huge dog lover. Even besides all the love, joy a dog can give you, and think dogs can help all ages feel better and give happiness to all.
Thanks for this post. It was helpful.
I am glad that it could help.