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Dogs for Seniors: 5 Questions to Ask Before You Get a New Best Friend

By Jessica Hegg April 18, 2017 Family

Does the thought of cuddling up with a blanket, a good book and a sweet pup snuggled at your feet simply warm your heart? Me too!

There’s nothing better than having the best companion dog by your side. It’s a fantastic idea!

Dogs for seniors provide stress-relief, security and motivation to stay active. Before you go pick out the perfect collar and tag, however, keep these five big considerations in mind.

Are You Ready to Work?

Canine companions make for wonderful company and partners in exercise, however, owning a dog also comes with its own amount of work. Puppies especially require vigilant care and training in becoming housebroken and in learning to follow commands, not jump on others and socialize with other dogs.

Older dogs that are already housebroken and have a few doggy decades under their belt will be more docile and obedient, however, they too require regular exercise and activity. PetMD recommends dogs get at least 30 minutes of vigorous exercise every day (depending on breed, age, sex, and ability). This helps keep their weight and metabolism healthy, as well as their minds active, preventing bad doggy behaviors like digging holes and chewing up items around the house.

Do You Travel Often?

Having a dog is essentially like having little kids back in the house. You can’t leave them alone at a moment’s notice, you typically need to pay for someone to watch them and you have to remember that they need to go to the bathroom with your help – so a surprise all-day wine tasting getaway is out of the question.

If you are planning for frequent travel during retirement, the added costs of boarding your dog or hiring a pet-sitter might be significant enough to influence your decision. Understanding that canines are pack animals is important too. Dogs love having a family, playing, and being active with their “pack.” Think about whether your travels will often take you away from home without your dog and if that is something you want.

Can you Afford it?

Forget the price tag on your dog whether you are adopting or buying from a breeder. This ASPCA chart on shows that the annuals costs of caring for a dog can range from $590/year for a small dog, to $695/year for a medium-sized dog and $875/year for a large dog. This likely doesn’t include unexpected costs associated with medical care or pet boarding/sitting.

Pet insurance can provide some protection around unforeseen vet visits or surgeries your dog may require, and free, online services like and connect you with dog-loving pet sitters that can step in to help out and potentially save you money.

Depending on the diet your dog requires, food costs can also range from $20 for a bag of food to upwards of $70. Signing up for loyalty rewards at your local pet store or searching for coupons online can help offset some of those costs.

Does Your Apartment Complex or Home Association Allow Dogs?

Before you rush out to the local adoption shelter or pet store, double-check that where you live is a dog-friendly environment and that dogs are “allowed pets.” Some breeds of dogs, like pit bulls, incur additional fees or restrictions with various living communities and apartment complexes.

Other rules and requirements from your homeowner’s association might also affect your dog ownership. Rules around where dogs can be walked, waste disposal, noise ordinances that apply to loud barking, as well as requirements for tags or microchipping might exist. Check with your apartment complex or homeowner’s association to read up on what you should know before bringing a new dog to the community.

Do Any of Your Friends or Family Have Allergies?

Whether you get a dog or even the type of you dog you choose might be influenced by the friends or family who frequently visit you. It’s not dog hair that people are allergic to, but rather a protein secreted in a dog’s dander, saliva and urine. Even vacuuming thoroughly can still leave someone with a dog allergy sneezing and rubbing their eyes.

Dander is airborne and can settle on almost any surface. If your granddaughter you watch every Monday has an allergy to dogs, a long-haired retriever might not be the best idea for your companion.

Other Ways to Get in on the Puppy Action!

Dogs can energize your life and provide loyal companionship as you age. If you decide that owning a dog simply isn’t for you, there are other ways to spend time with cuddly canines – volunteer at a local animal shelter, find part-time work at a pet store, apply to foster a dog temporarily or simply offer to pet sit for friends and neighbours yourself!

Have you been thinking about getting a dog? Have you taken these questions into consideration? What kind of dog are you thinking about getting? What factors play into your decision-making? Please join the conversation.

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The Author

Jessica Hegg is the content manager at Avid gym-rat and nutrition enthusiast, she’s interested in all things related to staying active and living a healthy lifestyle. Through her writing, she works to share valuable information aimed at overcoming obstacles and improving the quality of life for others. You can find her on Twitter @Jessica_Hegg.

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