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5 Best Pets for Seniors

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A senior man and a senior woman playing with a small dog in a living room

Whether a senior lives alone or in senior living, companionship is a crucial part of life. And sometimes, a furry little friend living under the same roof can do wonders for a person’s mood. Socializing in any way is important for seniors. But the real question is: what are the best pets for seniors?

It’s important to discuss the idea of animal companionship with a loved one before making a choice for them. However, ideal pets include:

  • Small dogs
  • Cats
  • Birds
  • Hamsters, rats, rabbits, and small rodents
  • Fish and other low-maintenance sea-dwelling life

These all require low maintenance and can easily accompany your loved one in a senior living community, all while providing them with the love and support a senior deserves!

The Benefits of Animal Companionship

As people age, they often find themselves in a state of loneliness and boredom. Seniors are at a higher risk of this. As life changes, it’s a common occurrence to lose touch with friends and family, leading to feelings of isolation and loneliness.

But this doesn’t have to be the case—many seniors find a great deal of happiness and companionship in owning a pet. Animals make great companions for seniors and bring them love, support, and purpose. If you’re thinking about helping a senior in your life pick the right animal companion, there are a few things to keep an eye out for.

Ideally, the best animals are ones that can integrate into your loved one’s life without causing any additional strain. This means it’s better to avoid large dogs, overactive animals, or anything that requires high maintenance, like constant grooming or cleaning. 

So here are some ideas for the best pets for seniors.

Small Dogs

Small dogs are a great option for seniors since they’re typically less demanding than larger breeds. They’re more portable, making it easier to take them to and from the vet or any other dog-friendly appointments, and they often enjoy spending time indoors. Dogs are loyal and affectionate pets that provide fantastic company for older people.

Some of the best small dog breeds for seniors include:

  • Pugs 
  • Dachshunds
  • Chihuahuas
  • Yorkshire terriers
  • Shih tzus
  • Miniature poodles

These all require very little exercise, grooming, and overall maintenance and have a good habit of being loving and attentive to their owners.


Cats are wonderful pets for seniors. These little creatures tend to be very independent and require minimal care. They are great companions since they love to cuddle and provide emotional support. 

Introducing a cat into a senior’s home can reduce their stress levels and help them stay calm and relaxed. And not to mention—did you know that a cat purring on your chest can even have health benefits?

Fish & Sea Critters

For some seniors, the idea of having a furry little critter running around the house doesn’t seem too appealing. Fortunately, the options don’t stop at our furry four-legged friends. What about fish?

Fish and sea critters are low-maintenance pets, and they bring a sense of calm and tranquility to any home. They are perfect for seniors dealing with mobility issues that may make it more difficult to care for more traditional pets. They simply require regular feeding and the occasional cleaning of the tank.

A small aquarium can provide hours of entertainment, and the soothing sound of the water can help reduce stress and anxiety. Not to mention the beautiful mix of colors and patterns on their scales can be almost hypnotizing!


Birds are great companions for seniors. They’re known to be very empathetic and social creatures and can bring a lovely change to the inside of your loved one’s home. They come in a range of sizes, from small budgies to larger parrots. 

It’s important to remember, though: birds require daily care, including fresh food and water, but they’re easily trained and can be taught to speak and perform tricks. This can make them an excellent companion for a senior in your life!

Hamsters, Rats, & Rabbits 

Small rodents make excellent pets for seniors since they’re easy to care for and have a habit of being quite social. These animals bring warmth and companionship into any home, and they’re a great choice for those who prefer smaller pets. 

Rodents and other small animals offer a lot of benefits, like:

  • Their enclosure or cage takes up very little space
  • They don’t need much space
  • They’re easy to care for, and their food can be bought in bulk 

This can make them ideal for a senior who doesn’t have too much experience with animals. Whether they stay in the cage or are allowed to roam freely around the house, these animals can be an excellent addition to your loved one’s home!

A senior man with glasses holding a ginger cat at home

The Villages of Murfreesboro

Pets can be a wonderful way to improve the life of a senior you love. Pets reduce anxiety and depression, they can bring beauty and love into a home, and they can help promote a sense of purpose in your loved one.

Choosing the right pet for your loved one can be a difficult decision, but these 5 animal companions are great options for seniors. From small dogs to birds, these pets are easy to care for, affectionate, and can quickly become a beloved part of any family. At The Villages of Murfreesboro, we know how important it is for your loved one to have a high quality of life. If a senior in your life is in need of senior care, schedule a tour with us.

Sue Hall

Written by Sue Hall

Sue has been in healthcare for over 30 years as a nurse, consultant, and administrator. Through the years, she has always felt her calling was with seniors, and she feels at home at The Villages of Murfreesboro. Sue serves on the board of the Tennessee State Veterans’ Homes.

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