- June
Posted By : PawBoost
Guide to Dog Ownership for Seniors and Elderly Adults

This article is contributed by guest writer, Emily G. (Author of Modern Day Pets).

A Guide to Adopting and Owning a Dog as an Older Person

There are a few important things to keep in mind during your golden years when it comes to dog care. Dogs aren’t independent and fairly easy to care for like cats. They require lots of attention, energy and money.

You can make things a lot easier on yourself if you’re willing to take some advice, and we’ve compiled some tips to help you out. So, let’s hop in with some tips and tricks to help make looking after your canine easier.

Photo Credit: Magdalena Smolnicka via Unsplash

1. Choose the right dog breed

Dogs have a wide variety of temperaments, and you’ll need to make sure that yours is suited to you.

It may be a mistake to adopt a younger pet. While cute, they have a lot of energy and often aren’t as careful around people as we’d like. Thousands of people are injured every year playing with their pets, so a calmer animal is usually more appropriate.

While size is a preference for most people, keep in mind that larger dogs cost double what smaller dogs do per year. That may be an important consideration if you have a fixed income.

Related article: A Basic Guide For The 10 Most Popular Dog Breeds

2. Make care arrangements in advance

Medical problems can lead to long absences from your home, and they happen suddenly. Since seniors are at more risk of extended hospital stays, you should ensure that your dog will be taken care of.

Most often it’s best to arrange with a family member for the dog to be fed, watered, and generally cared for while you’re away. That way a plan can be put in place as soon as you’re not home.

In other cases, it may be necessary to find a kennel or dog sitter who will be ready on a contingency.

A bit of preparation can make your short time away much easier for both of you.

3. Schedule ahead for appointments

Your appointments should be scheduled in advance, especially routine checkups with the veterinarian. Groomer appointments are another regular occurrence that you’ll need to take care of.

Your best bet is to schedule them well in advance, especially since you’ll have to work around other appointments. It’s just a fact of life that as we get older our schedules become fuller.

Write them down in a planner, put them on your calendar, and even set up your phone’s calendar as well. Reminders are never a bad thing, and it’s often difficult to recall appointments that were made months in advance.

Scheduling far ahead of time lets you keep your schedule flexible as well.

Photo Credit: Chris Benson via Unsplash

4. Automated feeding and watering

Go with automated feeders and watering fountains to save yourself some labor. There are many of them out there, and they come in sizes suitable for all dogs. You even get automated feeders for cats, rabbits and fish too.

Most of the cheaper ones require more effort to keep up. Gravity-fed water bowls, for instance, still require you to fill up the sizable container. It’s a time-saver compared to regularly filling a dog bowl, however.

On the other hand, you can also find setups that allow for more freedom. It’s really a matter of what you need to do to stay comfortable on a day-to-day basis.

The end result is always saved effort, so look into the available systems.

5. Find the right veterinarian

You’ll need to find the right veterinarian to help with your dog’s care.

That means getting along with them on a personal basis, but you may have special requirements. One of the biggest requirements which seniors have is needing house calls. Finding a veterinarian amenable to doing so is often easy enough, you just need to ask.

Make sure that your veterinarian’s office is close by as well. In the event of an emergency, you don’t want to have to drive for hours.

A veterinarian makes a huge difference in quality-of-life for your dog. So pick the right one in the first place.

6. Calculate the costs

Dogs are an investment, and you’ll be spending money on them. A small dog with no complications can often cost around $600 per year. Larger dogs are almost twice that.

And that’s assuming nothing else comes up.

If you don’t have a dog yet, you’ll also need to take into account all of the trappings your animal needs. Food bowls, toys, and dog beds all add up quickly and are part of the whole package. You may need to dog-proof your home as well, even the type of couch can be an important consideration.

Just make sure that you’ve got the financial backing you’ll need, especially initially, and then plan it out from there. Emergencies happen, but you shouldn’t have to worry about the day-to-day expenses of upkeep. A wise budget helps you plan ahead.

Photo Credit: Tim Mossholder via Unsplash


Taking care of a dog as you get older is just a matter of preparation. You’ll need some contingencies you didn’t have when you were younger, and there may be a little bit less energy to spend on things like dog bowls.

But the truth is that seniors with pets gain a lot of benefits. Just relax, think ahead, and enjoy your canine companion. If you don’t have the energy for a pooch, you can always get a goldfish. They make wonderful pets, require very little attention and they are very therapeutic to look at.


  • GREAT advice that being said there are i believe 6 veterinarian clinics in my town and no one will take emergency calls after hrs they all have a recording telling you to go places that are 1 to 2 hrs away anyone else have this problem just curious

    • In my area the emergency clinic is only 30 mins from me but, if your regular vet is not in their network they won’t see you and if you cannot pay in full ( even though you don’t know in advance what the cost will be ) they won’t see you.

  • Great advice , we were torn if we should get another dog when our last one passed 2 years ago , thinking we were too old , but being without a dog made us feel old , so we dove in and our Lola will be 2 august 7th, she keeps us young and on the move ❤️

  • Keep in mind as we become seniors our balance is not as good as it use to be. A larger dog just brushing up against you can knock you off balance. A smaller dog 2 plus yr old. can be a lap dog and give you a lot of personal comfort. Just a tip to take into consideration.

  • We have enjoyed cats all of our lives. The last cat we raised from a kitten lived to be 24!
    Now, I think it would be irresponsible for us to adopt another kitten.
    We are now seniors. So, we adopt senior cats.
    I ran a rescue & we took in many animals that became orphans because their people died or went into assisted living.
    I asked the people who applied to adopt the kitten/puppy what would happen to the animal if they could no longer care for him /her? Vague answers: maybe one of my fnds, neighbors, children will take them.
    Just adopt animals that are age-appropriate, size appropriate, & health appropriate to you.
    Consider your life expectancy, physical capabilities. and veterinary costs.

    • Yes 🙌 Well said❣️👍🙏👍

    • You are so 100% on target–volunteering in a shelter for many years taught me that lesson. All animals entering a shelter are sad but the beautiful, well cared for pets of older people who have died unexpectedly or have left their older pets for their children to care for are in a class by them selves. No matter your age, make an arrangement with a chosen person that agrees to legally take your pet (and will properly care for it) , write up the agreement or have your attorney do it, get it signed by both and notarized. Leave a copy with your will and one in your home with your other important papers. Leave the way to reach your agreed upon person and their contact number. It is the kindest thing you can do for your beloved pet. They are like leaving a baby alone in the world and otherwise your pet’s future is to go to a shelter and let that policy determine it’s future.

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