The enthusiastic and friendly nature of pets make them the perfect companion for children, adults, and nearly every type of individual – no matter their living situation. However, depending on your lifestyle, abilities, and wants, there are certain animal breeds that may be more suitable for older adults. The most optimal breeds for older adults include dogs, cats, birds, and exotic animals since there are types of breeds within these categories that can suit low-activity lifestyles that many older adults live. You can find suggestions for the perfect pet breeds for you below.
“Dogs are a man’s best friend” couldn’t be any more true for older adults. Dogs make great companions for older adults since they are playful yet remain calm and loyal to their owners when they need it. Below are a few dogs that can be the perfect fit for your lifestyle.
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
Lifespan: 9 – 14 years
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel are great choices for older adults to consider since they can be playful – but are typically calm-natured. They enjoy a good hour of activity before spending the rest of the day cuddling up to their owners. This is perfect for older adults who like to go for a long walk and then enjoy the rest of their day with their companion.
Lifespan: 10 – 16 years
This affectionate and loyal breed makes great companions for those who live a calm lifestyle. Although they are playful, shih tzus enjoy spending their time laying next to their owners and being by their side. Shih Tzus are small in size, easy to carry, and friendly with people of all ages.
Lifespan: 10 – 14 years
One of the most popular dogs, Labrador Retrievers, gained their popularity because of their friendly, welcoming, and gentle nature. Labrador retrievers can be a great fit for you if you are a fan of big dogs but need a dog who can also sit down beside you without the need to play consistently. However, this breed does need several hours of exercise everyday – so make sure you are prepared for multiple walks throughout the day.
For older adults who have limited mobility, cats are a great option for their loving personality yet independent lifestyle. They will enjoy spending time with you but get their exercise through their own adventures of climbing on furniture and exploring through your house. Cats are one of the most people-oriented animals and will make a perfect addition to any lifestyle.
Lifespan: 16 – 18 years
One of the most common breeds, Burmese cats, are known for their friendliness and loyalty to humans. They are not prone to shedding and are active but adapt quickly to different environments. No matter if you live in a house of an apartment, they will make the best out of every situation they are put in.
Lifespan: About 13 years
Just as the name suggests, Munchkin cats are very small in stature which makes them a suitable breed for older adults since they cannot jump onto high surfaces and get into trouble. However, they are adventurous and can provide hours of entertainment by cuddling next to or playing with older adults or their grandchildren all day!
Lifespan: 18 -22 years
If you are allergic to cats, Balinese cats are the best option for you because of their hypoallergenic coat. This breed requires very little maintenance. These cats are quiet and perfect for those living in small areas who live a low-active lifestyle. They are calm-natured but are playful and love to spend time with their owners.
Birds are compatible pets for older adults who want to teach and nurture another animal without leading an active lifestyle. Since birds are typically in their cages, they do not require walks or exercises as most other pets do. However, they can still provide company and entertainment for their owners by singing soft tunes, flying around their cages, and learning new tricks.
Lifespan: 15 years
Parakeets are known to be low-maintenance, affectionate, and friendly to human companions and other animals as well. Not only are parakeets loving, but they are great entertainers and enjoy learning new tricks – including how to talk.
Lifespan: 20 years
Known for their small size, Parrotlets are one of the most favored breeds to have as pets. Although they are small, their personality is anything but small. They are active, vocal and love interacting with their human companions to learn new tricks. However, they do require attention daily to form a strong bond with them. Once that bond is built, they are very affectionate and loyal.
Lifespan: 15 – 25 years
Known for their beautiful coats and large range of appearances, Cockatiels are very affectionate birds that make for great companions. They enjoy being hand-fed to interact with human companions, but are actually a very low-maintenance breed. They are also well known for their intelligence. Although they cannot be taught how to talk, they have the ability to learn an abundance of other tricks.
Although dogs, cats, and birds are common pets (and rightfully so, since they make great companions for people of all ages), there are many other animal species that enjoy relationships with humans as well. Below are a few other animal species that can make suitable pets for older adults if you are allergic or cannot maintain the breeds listed above.
Lifespan: 8 – 12 years
Rabbits are active animals. However, they are indoor pets and enjoy spending their time inside the house. If you do not have a backyard or the ability to go for walks or runs outdoors, rabbits can give you an active lifestyle without the need to go outside. They are also adorable and affectionate animals that love human companions.
Lifespan: 2 -5 years
Hedgehogs are cute, entertaining, and very low-maintenance animals to take care of. If you want to take care of an animal without tremendous amounts of responsibility, getting a hedgehog would be a reasonable option. They do not require toys, cages, litter boxes, long walks, or copious amounts of exercise as many other animals do. Hedgehogs are ideal pets for those who do not have a lot of mobility, live in a small area, or have a restricted budget.
Lifespan: Varies by Breed
Fish are low-maintenance breeds but they require aquariums suitable for the size of the fish and most likely a few colorful reefs or accessories to keep them entertained within their aquarium. Although you cannot play with them regularly, they offer a sense of responsibility for older adults that need to feed and nurture them.