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Thinking About Getting a Pet? Consider These Options


There’s a lot of literature out there about the benefits that pets can have on seniors' mental and physical health. Pets can encourage exercise and activity, leading to better overall health. There’s a lot to think about, and it’s important to weigh the situation thoroughly before making a decision.

Once a decision to get a pet has been made, that’s just the beginning. There are further questions to consider when getting a new pet: What’s the right pet for me? Can I take care of a dog or cat? Where’s the best place to get one? (just to follow the layout of the blog) Consider these options. 

What if you’re not a cat or a dog person?

You’ve heard the statements before: “I’m a cat person,” or “I’m a dog person.” But what if you’re neither? Dogs and cats can be a lot of work, especially when they’re young. And depending on your living situation, they may not even be options available to you (although all Merrill communities are pet friendly 🙂). Some pets are capable of carrying illnesses that can put people with compromised immune systems at risk, some are expensive. The CDC recommends asking yourself several questions before choosing a pet, for example: What do they eat? How long will they live? What kind of activity do they require? How much does it cost to take care of them? Etc.

These questions will help you determine the right pet for you. It could be that a ferret, rabbit, lizard, or hamster is more your speed, or possibly a bird, snake or a fish. Each pet will come with their own set of challenges and needs, so be sure you research what these might be and whether or not they fit in with your needs, circumstances, and lifestyle. 

Adopting middle-aged pets

Perhaps you are a dog or a cat person, but the idea of training and raising a puppy or a kitten seems like too to deal with. A great option to consider is adopting a middle-aged pet. Apart from the fact that older pets have a much lower adoption rate (in the case of dogs: 25% for older dogs compared to 60% for younger dogs), there are a lot of benefits to middle-aged pets. They usually don’t require potty training, they tend to be calmer and don’t need quite as much exercise, and they can cost significantly less. 

Chasing around a puppy and cleaning up after their messes can be exhausting, and the thought of it might put you off getting a pet entirely, so why not skip that whole part? 

Shelters and adoption

Once you’ve decided to get a pet, the question becomes, where should you get it? You want to make sure you’re getting your pet from a reputable and responsible source. According to the Humane Society, there are up to as many as 10,000 “puppy mills” around the country, which force puppies and their mothers to live in cruel conditions. Most pet stores source their puppies from these mills, so they’re best avoided as buying from them perpetuates the cycle of demand for these puppy mills. 

Do a search for your local shelter and pet adoption center. There is often no shortage of pets that need rescuing. If you choose to use a breeder, make sure they’re reputable. Per the Humane Society, “Beware: AKC [American Kennel Club] and other types of registration papers only tell you who a puppy's parents were, not how they were treated.” Be sure to see where the pets were raised for yourself and don’t rely purely on paperwork. Regardless of the type of pet, or where you choose to get them from, do your research.

Pets can be a great way to add joy in your life. No matter what kind of pet you get, it is important to make sure you’re getting them from the right source. The right pet can offer a loving bond and valued companion on a day-to-day basis. Having a pet you are responsible for can also help offer a sense of purpose, capability, and independence. Certain pets will help get you out and about into the fresh air, while others are a steady source of companionship that don’t demand too much of you. All our needs vary, so be honest and open minded. It could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

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