Best Pets For Seniors-Dogs or cats

Best Pets For Seniors-Dogs or cats

There is quite a lot involved if a senior finds themselves alone and makes the decision to get a pet. An argument can be made for a dog or a cat. The best pets for seniors might come down to how active the senior is.

Pets can be very beneficial to seniors. Most seniors will be much happier and relaxed if they have a pet for company. As long as there is a pet around, they will never feel lonely.


Depending on the health of the senior involved, a dog could be an excellent choice. The reason it depends on the health of the senior is the amount of attention dogs need.

Unlike a cat, a dog has to be walked every day so they can have their bathroom break. Nature doesn’t care if it is -25 outside, the dog still has to be taken outside. This puts the senior at risk of slipping on the snow and ice.

Best pets for seniors
A puppy requires a lot of work and could be stressful for a senior.

Because of there size compared to cats, dogs can eat a lot. This can become expensive and even more so as the dog continues to grow. It’s the same with grooming. The bigger the animal, the more work it will take to look after them.

Dogs have a shorter lifespan than cats. On average, a dog will live for about eight years. Of course, there are those that live longer, but as they age more health problems can begin to appear.


Studies have shown that dogs are much smarter than cats. Have a look at this article from National Geographic.

If a dog has to be walked every day, then the senior has to walk every day. Everybody wins!

Dogs can add a sense of security and depend on their size can scare off intruders. Even a small dog bark might do it.

Best Pets For Seniors-Dogs or cats

Because dogs are so intuitive, they can warn there the owner of impending danger. Like fire for instance. Cats can do this as well, but a meow is less likely to get the same attention as non-stop uncharacteristic barking.

If you have a backyard, you might want to purchase a dog house for it. Or better yet, purchase a Dog House fit for inside or outside.


Dogs have a much shorter life span than cats. A Great Dane might live just eight years, but a poodle might live 15. Of course, there are exceptions to the average longevity of both cats and dogs. Some dogs might live to be 20.

Depending on their size, dogs can be very expensive to feed.

If a senior has problems walking, then a dog is pretty much out of the question unless there is a help to look after the pet.

Best Pets For Seniors-Dogs or cats
Bigger dogs might require more care.

Also, dogs often need to get outside to run and play. Again, how does a senior with mobility issues manage this?

The larger the dog, the more time and effort it will take to groom and bathe them properly.


Cats may not be as smart as dogs, but there certainly are exceptions. Cats can sense when things are not right. There have been instances when cats have woken their owners up when there is a fire.

Cats are just as much good company for a senior as dogs are. You can talk to them, pet them, feed them, and nurture them in much the same way. All any animal ever wants is to be looked after and loved and they will be loyal forever.


On average cats will live much longer than a dog. The Guinness Book of Records states that the longest living cat was just over 38 years old. The average cat will live 12 to eighteen years. It all depends on if they are an indoor or outdoor cat.

Cats eat far less than dogs and the pet food bill will be easier on the senior’s budget.

Cats do most of there grooming themselves and are easier to maintain.

A senior does not have to worry about a cat getting enough exercise. They can do that running around the house. Just provide enough cat toys to keep them happy and active.

Walking a cat for bathroom breaks every day isn’t necessary. Just keep a steady supply of kitty litter on hand.

best pets for seniors
Like puppies, kittens can be very cute, but require much more attention than older cats.


Cats will not provide quite as much security. Unlike a dog, they can’t bark to warn of intruders.

It doesn’t take much to amuse a cat. If it can play for 30 minutes or so it’s happy. Most of the time it’s content to just sit on there owners bed or lap. This doesn’t help a senior who would benefit from a daily venture outside that a dog demands. All your cat really wants is a cat bed it can lie around in and some cat toys.

On average, a cat is not as intelligent as most dogs. They are not interested in sitting, rolling over, etching the newspaper, or getting a beer out of the fridge. (okay, so that might be a stretch, but some dogs actually can be trained to do it).

In the event of looming danger like a fire, cats have been known to alert there sleeping, owners. However, there is a big difference between a meowing cat and a vigorously barking dog.


First of all, it all depends on the health and physical ability of the owner. A senior who has trouble getting around would be far happier with a lower maintenance pet like a cat. A senior who loves going out for long walks would be more suitable for dog ownership.

Best pets for seniors
Older cats do not require quite as much attention as kittens.

Cats will live longer on average. It may even outlive the senior. It would be emotionally difficult for a senior living on there owns to lose there pet. This is more likely to happen with a dog.

The financial upkeep of a cat is far less expensive just because of there size. They simply won’t eat as much.

When the time comes when the senior has to move into a retirement community that does not allow pets, it might be far easier for family members to adopt the seniors’ cat as opposed to a dog.

Spaying and neutering will help protect dogs and cats from many diseases and is a wise choice of action regardless of what pet is the first choice.

Then there is the question of getting a puppy or older dog or kitten or older cat. Most experts have determined that seniors should lean towards an older pet that has been at least partially trained. Younger animals require much more work, and this can add stress to the life of a senior when the opposite is the real goal.

Ultimately, a dog or a cat can be beneficial to seniors who have lost there spouse and children have moved away. They tend to become depressed and often become reclusive. Pets provide entertainment, company, and a sense of purpose when once there was none.

Do you have a driver’s license for your pet? If not, check this out.

Ultimately, everything comes down to matching up the right senior with the right pet based on the needs, financial wherewithal, and physical ability of the senior. There is really no set rule.

An argument can be made for a dog or a cat when it comes to the question of what is the best pets for seniors.

Both a dog and a cat require a senior to be more active than they would be on there own. It’s important for seniors to always keep moving.

If you would like to share your thoughts on this topic feel free to make a comment at the bottom of this page.

10 comments / Add your comment below

  1. Hi, this is great information. I believe it is true that pet dogs can help seniors active and happy, it can also help sick people feel better and relaxed. If a dog is trained to do some small things, it can be very helpful to seniors. 

    Yes, there are good sides and bad sides of having a pet, but if they can make people happy, then the cons are okay. I enjoyed reading your article. Thank you for sharing it.

    1. Thank you for your comment Mary! It’s actually a pretty interesting topic. I learned a lot in the research for it.

  2. My dad is a senior and has a small dog, so pretty low maintenance and he does not eat a lot of dog good.  Cooper provides him with a companion and someone he can talk to since my mom passed away.  I think there are so many benefits.  But you are right, picking the right companion for a senior is a big deal.  Thankfully he has a yard, so he does not have to worry about falling as he does live in Alaska.  Great information.  Some think it is a pretty simple solution for providing a companion, but you really do have to consider everything that you have listed in this post.

  3. Hello; the Senior who will choose a pet should decide on what kind of pet he/she wants. Once the senior can move around, he or she will understand that a pet requires parental-like treatment.

     I can speak for the Dog. As intelligent as a Dog may be, the animal likes to be loved and pampered. If a senior failed in the sense, he/she will find much unhappiness with his/ her pet.

     It is a fact that the Dog cost more to finance him. I had seen Dog pet leading their visual impaired senior owner through the busy town.


  4. Hi

    I really enjoyed this article as it is such a difficult decision to make, as the elderly may prefer either or neither. Most old people are lonely and both animals can  become a companion.  The mobility issue is the key  as it would be difficult to walk a dog if you yourself cannot walk any distance without stopping.

    It is also important to gauge how well the person in question can look after themselves. If they struggle  with this, then no pets should be used, as the pet will be neglected.

    It is a question for which the family and carers need to answer.

    Thank You


  5. Hi Ray, I’m so happy to have read this most interesting article on choosing the best pet for a senior citizen, and equally so to have found your website Senior Pizzazz. I think this is a great niche idea, especially since you’ve had such an active, competitive and diversified career (I read your ‘About Ray’ page.)

    Speaking as someone who has been the pet parent of both dogs and cats, I can agree with most of your pros and cons of each (although I didn’t know that dogs were smarter than cats – I actually thought it was the other way around!) Cats are much lower maintenance than dogs but you’re right; for an able bodied senior, a daily dose of fresh air and exercise taken with your new best friend can be quite invigorating for both pet and pet owner.

    Great article. Thanks so much for the valuable information because choosing the right pet should be a serious consideration for a senior.


    1. Thanks for your feedback Sue. The interesting thing about writing posts is the amount you can learn during your research.

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