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Top 5 best pets for seniors: Find the ideal animal companion

A man and his dog, one of the best pets for seniors
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Whether you live an active or more sedentary life, the best pets for seniors have something for everyone, with a range of companion animals that require varying degrees of energy and commitment to suit your lifestyle. 

Pets can benefit our health and wellbeing in so many wonderful ways, including lowering our levels of stress and anxiety, warding off depression, decreasing feelings of loneliness and isolation, and providing a much-needed source of love and affection.

And while you may be wondering whether you have the financial means or space to welcome a pet into your life, rest assured that not every creature in the animal kingdom requires you to have a lot of disposable income or a large area for them to roam about in.

In this guide we’ll introduce you to a range of different pets, including those with tons of energy that will make brilliant walking or play companions and mellow pets who will be quite content to merely be in your presence. Whatever kind of pet you’re looking for, we’ve got you covered!

1. Dogs

Now, before you think that all dogs are super energetic and will require you to be out there pounding the pavement for hours at a time, think again, there are all sorts of wonderful breeds that span the range from couch potatoes all the way through to active adventurers, so you’re bound to find one that suits your needs.

If you love getting out and about on daily walks, then a dog that requires a moderate amount of exercise could be the perfect partner for you. A West Highland Terrier, for example, is small enough to be easily handled, can live happily in small spaces, but loves to get out on a nice, long walk each day.

For those of you who love a little mischief, the charming and comedic Pug or Shih Tzu will keep you laughing out loud with their adorable antics. They’re both really loving breeds too, so you’ll get plenty of affection from these two.

And speaking of affection, for a very gentle and very loving pup who will be loyal and dedicated, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is hard to beat. They also come with the added advantage that they’re happy to be active or lazy, so this really is a dog that will fit beautifully into any situation. Cavies are real lap dogs too, so you’ll get plenty of cuddles from this one!

When it comes to low maintenance breeds that hardly shed and are a breeze to house train, look no further than the adorable powder puff that is the Bichon Frise. Sweet, friendly, and playful, they get on well with other pets and children, so they’re a great choice if you have grandkids who regularly visit.

2. Cats

Cat on lap being stroked

(Image credit: Getty Images)

If you don’t feel you have the strength or energy to take care of a dog, then a cat could be a wonderful choice. And with so many different personalities out there, it’s safe to say that there’s most definitely a kitty for you. 

It can be worth giving some thought to what you’re looking for in a feline friend before you go ahead and welcome one into your home. Some cats are more independent, while others prefer to stick close. Some are chatty, while others are quiet. And some require a lot of grooming, while others require next to none.

The British Shorthair, American Shorthair, Russian Blue and Scottish Fold are four breeds of cat that are incredibly low maintenance thanks to their short coats that require little more than a grooming session with one of the best cat brushes now and again. They’re also calm and good natured, providing a friendly and comforting presence.

If a strong bond and plenty of affection is what you’re after, then the Birman, Ragdoll, and Persian are all top contenders. These cats are lap cats in every sense of the word and will be quite content to lie on you or next to you for hours at a time. They’re known to have moments of being playful, but they’re not over the top.

And for those of you who are after a vocal breed who will converse with you throughout the day, look no further than the Bengal, Burmese, Siamese, and Tonkinese, all of whom are huge chatterboxes! It’s worth bearing in mind though that these breeds also tend to be some of the most energetic and active, so regular play sessions are a must.

3. Rabbits

For those of you who aren’t quite sure you want to take on the commitment of a dog or cat, why not consider a rabbit? You won’t have to worry about barking and believe it or not, you can actually litter box train a rabbit in the same way you would a cat, so you won’t have to worry about stepping on any bunny droppings in your living room!

A rabbit will happily live outdoors or you can invest in one of the best indoor rabbit hutches and keep your floppy-eared friend in the house with you. As long as they have plenty of space to hop about and get daily exercise and play, they’ll be happy.

And just like with cats, there’s a breed of rabbit out there to suit everyone. Some bunnies are super independent and prefer not to have too many cuddles, while others can’t get enough affection and will be quite content to come onto your lap. Check out our guide on how to choose the right pet rabbit to find the bunny for you.

4. Birds

Parakeet sitting on persons palm

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Another wonderful option is to choose a feathered friend to be your companion. Bird-watching has been proven to help promote mindfulness, a sense of being in the moment, and to reduce stress and anxiety levels. 

And while you can definitely head outdoors to get these benefits, you’ll be pleased to hear that they’re just as accessible to you indoors. Birds provide many of the same therapeutic benefits of dogs and cats, but with less care, and they’re also ideal if you’re bed bound or spend a lot of time indoors.

You’ll want to purchase one of the best parrot cages to house your feathered friend and it’s up to you whether you also give them access to your home. Parakeets are an excellent choice when it comes to which bird to get as they’re colorful, unlikely to bite, and tend to enjoy a little song and dance, which is sure to put a smile on your dial.

5. Fish

Granted, you probably won’t want a large aquarium in your home that you need to clean and maintain, but a few finned friends housed in one of the best small fish tanks will be super easy to manage.

Betta fish are a great choice as they’re solitary creatures who are bright and colorful, making them a joy to look at. There’s also something really soothing about watching a fish swim around their tank.

Look for a tank that’s smaller than 10-gallons as this will make it easy to change the water and keep the tank clean. Daily feeding, weekly water testing, and a good monthly clean are all it will take to keep your fishy friends happy. 

Kathryn is a freelance writer who has spent the past two years dividing her writing time between her two great loves - pets and health and wellness. When she’s not busy crafting the perfect sentence for her features, buying guides and news pieces, she can be found hanging out with one very mischievous Cocker Spaniel, drinking copious amounts of Jasmine tea and attempting to set numerous world records for the longest ever FaceTime calls with her family back home in NZ.