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Pet Care Tips for Older People
As you get older, day to day activities can become harder to accomplish. This can include the ability to care for your pets. So, here are some tips on how to care for your pets as you continue to age in life.
If you are looking to get a new pet for companionship, try to avoid getting a dog or cat that is younger, and even considered to still be a puppy or kitten. The reason for this being that having to train your pet for even something as simple as housetraining can be quite a task. The puppies and kittens are also much more rambunctious and you may find yourself having difficulty in keeping up.
In addition to this, adopting an older dog can even be cheaper. There are some shelters and adoption centers that will waive adoption fees if a pet is over a certain age. (But check with your local shelter to find their specific rates and fees.)
There are even some programs, such as the Washington Animal Rescue League in D.C., called “Boomer’s Buddies” that will actually pair you as the adopter if you’re over the age of 50, with pets over the age of 5. There are other foundations like The Pets For the Elderly Foundation that will pay for adoption and pet fees as well, when adoptions take place in a participating shelter.
One of the most difficult things as we age tends to be losing our mobility; which means, we may not always be able to travel to the veterinarians or the store to get the proper food or treatment for our pets. There are many veterinarians and groomers that make house calls. There is a website called “Let’s Join Paws” that can match owners with caregivers who can take your dog for walks or spend time with your pets when you’re unable to. As far as food, many grocery stores now deliver your groceries and food directly to your house. A cheaper alternative is “Meals on Wheels for America” can do the same but for much cheaper or free, if you qualify or are a veteran.
Specific breeds of dogs that are low maintenance with grooming, exercise and low to moderate shedding are: pugs, bull dogs, Italian greyhounds, miniature pinschers, Boston terriers, and Chihuahuas. If you have allergies, you can look for dogs that have been bred with poodles, as this will make them hypoallergenic due to the poodles having hair, not fur. As far as cats, you would want a self-sufficient cat that will be content without much attention. These breeds include: the American shorthair, American wirehair, and Russian blue, among others. There are some hypoallergenic cats, such as the Sphynx cat, which is hairless but because of this requires more grooming in the form of baths. Other hypoallergenic cat breeds are the oriental shorthair and the Korat, as they have close-fitting coats that don’t become airborne when stroked or pet.
If you aren’t much of a dog or a cat person, there are other low maintenance pets you can look into getting.
One of which is a bird called a budgie, short for budgerigar, which is a smaller type of parakeet. These birds are simple and cheap to care for. A bird itself will cost around $20, while a decent cage and basic supplies will cost up to about $60. If you choose to get one bird, you will need to spend time with it, as you will become its “flock”. An alternative can be to get two birds; they may be less motivated to bond with you, but will always have a second companion. The lifespan of these little birds is anywhere from 5 to 15 years.
Hermit crabs can be a simple pet to care for as well. They are social creatures, so two or three can be a perfect amount. What you really need to do is make sure your hermit crabs have food, water, and a slightly larger shell from time to time. Hermit crabs molt their shells and will need a new shell that is about 1/3 larger than the previous. If you are artistic, you can always get these shells from your local pet store and paint them or decorate them however you’d like and place them in your little crabs’ home. They do not need extravagant tanks; a plastic aquarium will suit them just fine, so long as there is substrate on the bottom. You will just need to buy a thermometer and humidity gauge to make sure the air in the tank is humid enough for your crabs to breathe.
If it is legal where you live, you can also own a chicken as a pet! A bantam chicken is a small breed that is cheap, easy and requires less space and food than standard chickens, which makes it ideal for beginning to care for a chicken. If you buy your chicken as a chick, you’ll just need a cage with a heating lamp and chick food, as well as lots of water. As they grow to be 8-10 weeks old, you’ll want to change their diet to chicken feed and begin to look into a bigger cage/habitat that will allow them room to scratch and run around and have access to be outside in the sunlight. Chickens can be great pets because they can be quite calm and low maintenance as well as producing you with some fresh eggs! Now, who wouldn’t love that?