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Best Pets for Seniors: 5 Great Companions for Older Adults

Emotional Wellbeing | July 28, 2023

An older woman enjoying snuggles with her dog – one of the many benefits of pets for seniors.

Regardless of age, companionship is crucial for both your mental and physical well-being. This is especially true for seniors, who are more at risk of experiencing loneliness and lack of community. One way that seniors can combat this lack of companionship is to consider adopting a pet. Pet ownership is a wonderful way for seniors to get out of their shells – encouraging them to stay active, socialize with others, and feel a stronger sense of community.

While adopting a pet can be a great way for seniors to find a companion during their retirement years, they should be aware that animals have unique features that require different amounts of responsibility, energy, and resources. Some seniors may prefer an animal that matches their high activity level and lifestyle, while others enjoy caring for a less energetic companion that matches their pace, living situation, and finances.

Whether you’re looking for a small cat that loves cuddles or an active dog that needs plenty of walks, there are a wide array of animals that seniors can adopt that will fit their lifestyle. Curious about which pet is right for you? Let’s take a look at the benefits of pets for seniors and which pets make great companions for older adults.

What are the Benefits of Pet Ownership for Seniors?

While slobbery puppy kisses and snuggly kitten cuddles might be a quick way to put a smile on a pet owner’s face, there are additional benefits for seniors looking to adopt. Dogs, cats, and even rabbits offer companionship and can fill senior apartments with much-needed love and activity. Several studies have shown that retirees can enjoy several positive benefits when they bring a pet into their lives.

79% of pet owners between the ages of 50 and 80 said their pets helped reduce their stress, while 88% indicated that their pets helped them better enjoy their retirement. With many seniors facing daily isolation and loneliness, this study highlights just how impactful animal companionship can be.

Additional benefits of pets for seniors include:

While many of these studies focused on the benefits of dog ownership – potential pet owners can still enjoy these benefits even if they plan to adopt a cat, bird, or other potential pet that fits their lifestyle.

What are the Best Pets for Seniors?

Every senior has unique needs that will determine which pet is right for them. When considering adoption, seniors should determine whether a pet fits their lifestyle, needs, home, and caring abilities. Check out the five best pets for seniors below and find out which one is right for you.


Dogs hold the title of “man’s best friend” for a reason. They make fantastic companions and, with such a large variety of breeds available for adoption, you are sure to find one that meets your lifestyle needs. Dogs also make excellent pets for seniors, especially those who like having a reason to get outside every day. When considering adopting a dog, try to anticipate that dog’s level of mobility, activity level, and preferred type of home/residence.

We recommend smaller breeds like Cavalier King Charles spaniels, Shih Tzus, and French Bulldogs as they are perfect cuddling companions who don’t require too much physical activity or space.


Since most cats are generally low maintenance, they make wonderful companions for seniors who don’t necessarily have the strength or energy to keep up with a dog. Cats are especially great options for seniors who live in an apartment or independent living community as they are usually quieter than dogs and don’t require daily outdoor time.

Since each cat has a unique personality, it is up to you to determine what type of cat you would like to adopt. The only thing you should keep in mind is the difference between long and short-haired cats. Long-haired cats will require a bit more work since they may need to be brushed or groomed, while short hair cats clean themselves.


Fish make great companions for seniors as they are easy to care for, calming to admire, and require little maintenance. The adoption process is simple and will require the setup of a small freshwater aquarium. Luckily, small aquariums are easy to set up and, with a good filter and the right water balance, easy to maintain as well. Daily feeding, weekly water testing, and monthly gravel vacuuming are the main responsibilities of fish owners.

There is a wide array of fish that you can choose from based on personality, color, and habits. If you are adopting several fish, it’s crucial to choose compatible species so you can keep the peace in your new underwater habitat. Determining the type of fish you want to bring home is only half the fun – you also get to customize your new fish tank with hiding places, décor, and faux plants to create an interesting environment for your new fish.


Like cats, rabbits are low-maintenance pets that make plenty of cute little noise, use litter boxes, and like to cuddle. While not a common pet for seniors, rabbits make great companion animals as they do very well in independent living apartments and love interacting with their owner for lap snuggles or hair brushings.


Birds can make fantastic companions for seniors. Depending on your circumstances and preferences, you can find a lovely companion in canaries, finches, parrots, and parakeets. Similar to dogs, you should research which species of bird will be right for you as they vary in lifespan, amount of affection required, and noise level.

Companionship and Community for Your Golden Years

Companionship is crucial for older adults as they age. If you’re looking for a comforting, communal senior living solution, consider National Church Residences. National Church Residences has a proven track record of offering quality senior housing in welcoming retirement communities.

Ready for a senior housing option that meets your personal lifestyle and needs? Find out which senior living options are in your area or give us a call at 844-465-6063 to talk to one of our friendly staff members today.

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National Church Residences does not discriminate against individuals based on race, color, disability, familial status, national origin, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, payment source, or any other class protected by applicable law, whether in employment or its activities, programs, or services. National Church Residences also does not discriminate based on age, except as required by government entitlements or permitted by applicable law for seniors.