The Best Pet for the Elderly

It has been proven that pets make great company for seniors. But what is the best pet for the elderly? Should they have a dog or a cat?
The Best Pet for the Elderly
Francisco María García

Written and verified by the lawyer Francisco María García.

Last update: 27 December, 2022

It has been proven that pets make great company for the elderly. However, even though having a pet around can combat loneliness, it’s important to remember that they need to be taken care of. Therefore, what is the best pet for the elderly?

The nature of the elderly

Before looking for a pet to keep an older person company, you’ll need to check whether he or she is an active person. Some elderly people are independent, travel, and have a lot of social activities.

If the person is away from home a lot, then having a pet can become an uncomfortable, annoying life change, and it might not be the best idea.

Which is the best pet for the elderly: a dog or a cat?

A cat is the best pet for the elderly.

Once you’ve decided to look for a companion animal for your grandfather or grandmother, you should look for one that will bring them joy and be good company, without being too hard to take care of. 

Whether it’s a cat or a dog, it should be more than two years old. That way, it has already passed the age when it is most energetic and playful.

So, which is the best pet for the elderly: a dog or a cat? There are good arguments for either one. However, most experts would say a cat is better. A cat’s independent and affectionate nature makes it an ideal companion for the elderly.

Once a cat is two or three years old, it likes to be in bed with its owner for a long time. In addition, it doesn’t need to go for walks. In regards to daily care, it only needs its daily portion of food, fresh water, and a litter box.

Dogs give a lot of love, but they also need a lot of care. They need to play and do outdoor activities. For the elderly, walking a dog could cause accidents and falls, especially if it’s a large breed.

Economic considerations

Don’t forget that having a pet has its costs. A pet needs to be well cared for and fed. Normally, small or medium-sized dogs cost less to feed.

In addition, small and medium-sized dogs have longer life expectancy than large ones.

As far as choosing a cat goes, smaller ones are easier for the elderly to manage and care for. The life expectancy of a cat can be over 20 years.

Dog breeds for the elderly

The best option is to go to an animal shelter and find a mixed-breed dog. Animal shelters have some of the best dogs you can find.

Cocker Spaniels weigh around 22 to 26 lbs and are 14 to 16 inches long. They are a playful, sensitive, sweet breed. They love to please and obey their family members. Spaniels are very sociable dogs and love to be part of the family, even if that family is only one person.


The Chihuahua is known for its small size. It doesn’t weigh more than 4.5 lbs,  measures about 5 to 9 inches, and has a life expectancy of 15 to 18 years.

Chihuahuas have a lot of energy, and they prefer running around the house to napping on the couch.

Chihuahuas are very protective of their owners and make good guard dogs. They are loyal and want to please their families. They make ideal pets for seniors who want to have a great time with a small dog.

Benefits of having a dog for the elderly

A dog and a cat with an elderly person.
  • Improved well-being and vitality
  • Helps alleviate the feeling of abandonment and loneliness that the elderly may experience
  • Facilities communication with other people
  • Helps regulate blood pressure, reduces anxiety and depression
  • Helps a person stay in a good mood. Dogs are happy animals, and can pass that happiness and will to live and play on to their owners.
  • A dog can help a person recover from an illness.
  • An elderly person will have a daily routine to carry out, new responsibilities, and a break from the boredom and monotony of his daily life.

So, here are all the pros and cons of each animal, now you can make your choice!

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.