Having Dogs As You Age
Getting older isn’t easy. But does it mean you eventually have to give up having a dog? Not necessarily. In fact, having a furry companion can get better with age – and it can be better for you. However, it’s worth having a solid plan in place before jumping in.
First, studies show that people who own dogs have healthier hearts and often practice more heart-healthy lifestyle habits, like going on walks. Plus, there’s nothing that boosts your mental and emotional health like sharing your life with a dog. In fact, 79% of senior pet parents ages 50-80 report having less stress, 88% said they helped them enjoy life, and another 86% shared that they felt loved.
Plus, anyone with a dog likely agrees that they can:
- Make you more social
- Help you create and stick to a routine
- Keep you active
When put like that, it’s hard to argue with the benefits of dog ownership at every age. However, people often wonder if they’re “too old” to be a good pet parent. After all, what about those long walks? Or the risk of falling? Or worse yet – what if your pet outlives you?
That’s where solid planning before you get a dog comes into play.
To start, think about your concerns, and think about the dogs who need homes. For instance, smaller animals are less likely to pull hard enough to knock you off your feet. There are also animals that prefer the life of a couch potato, including many adult and senior dogs. And the added bonus of adult dogs? You often get to skip midnight potty breaks while training.
It’s also worrisome to think of what will happen if your pet outlives you. But there are solutions for this concern as well. And, honestly, it’s good to have a plan in place as a responsible pet parent regardless of age to ensure your dog is cared for if you become sick or die.
Ways to plan for your dog include:
- Having a committed friend, family member, or neighbor designated as a caregiver
- Making an arrangement with a no-kill pet rescue or the dog’s breeder
- Setting aside money and making legal arrangements for your pet’s care ongoing care
But remember, if you still have reservations about owning a dog when you reach a certain age, there are still plenty of options to get canine companionship. You can always volunteer at a local shelter or open your home up to fostering.
At the end of the day, people should think long and hard about owning a dog at every age. While a dog can bring countless rewards, it’s also a serious commitment that shouldn’t be taken lightly. Fortunately, if you’re asking whether you’re ready or too old, you’re off to the right start.
For more guidance, try this Are You Ready To Get A Dog? quiz from AKC.