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Seniors and dogs: choosing the ideal canine companion

Dogs make wonderful companions, and dog ownership, according to some studies, may even improve general health in seniors. As with anyone looking to get a dog, older couples are wise to look at their own lifestyle, the temperaments and needs of particular types of dogs, before deciding which dog is suitable for them.

Think lifestyle

When deciding on a pet, it’s essential to consider your own activity levels, time availability, resources, health and fitness and your daily routine. In general, relaxed dogs with lower energy levels are a good choice. They are usually very adaptable to either a house or apartment should you downsize, and are wonderfully affectionate and loyal.

Puppy or adult?

It’s essential to remember that a dog is a long-term commitment (some dogs can live beyond 15 years of age). Therefore, when choosing a dog, you’ll need to decide whether you’re interested in a puppy or adult animal. In general, puppies do involve more time and attention. An older dog will usually already be housetrained and less energetic. There are many adult dogs in need of a loving home, and animal welfare organisations such as the RSPCA and other reputable rescue groups will provide you with thorough information on available dogs, their temperaments and care needs. Animal welfare organisations like the RSPCA and reputable rescue groups also often have puppies looking for loving homes.

Suggested breeds

Generally quiet, smaller types of dogs make the best companions for seniors as they require less exercise, adapt well to apartment living, and are generally easier to handle. They will still need a daily walk however.

Online resources

The Australian Veterinary Association provides links to local vets and useful fact sheets. They recommend the RSPCA select a pet tool, which you can use to choose a suitable type of dog based on details like age, activity levels, home style and daily activities.

Finally, remember that dogs are a major time and financial commitment too. It’s a good idea to ask about food, general care and vet costs before deciding on an animal. Dog insurance is an option that may help with veterinary costs, in the event your dog becomes ill or is injured in an accident.

This is general information and does not take into account your financial needs or situation.