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The positive impacts a pet can make on elderly Australians

Our animal veterinary clinic sees a lot of regular faces through the doors. Wahroonga and surrounding areas such as Turramurra, Beecroft and Westleigh often attract people who spend their entire lives in the area. Generations of family live, love, grow, school and retire to the area. It’s beautiful and leafy. The community in Wahroonga is connected and strong. These are but a few reasons as to why many elderly Australians choose to remain in the area after the children have departed. It’s also a popular place for retirees and elderly Australians who wish to stay close to their children and grandchildren, friends and the community at large.

At Fox Valley Animal Hospital, we see a lot of seniors with pets. It warms our heart to see these special bonds flourish with every passing visit to our Wahroonga vet clinic. Getting a pet at any age can be a wonderful experience. It also requires forethought and planning.

Here are some of the positive impacts you or your elderly family members should consider if you decide on getting a pet later in life. As always, if you need more help, drop in on our animal veterinary clinic in Wahroonga

Older rescue pet versus young pups or kittens

In the 2015 to 2016 financial year, the RSPCA saw 45,000 dogs and 55,000 cats in their care. Of this figure, 12% of dogs and 29% of cats are euthanised. While the figures on senior pets are unavailable, we do know that senior pets struggle to be adopted.

Yet a senior pet makes a wonderful adoption choice for many reasons. Especially for elderly Australians.

For example, senior pets are well passed the zooming around and high exercise stage. They are content to have short bursts of exercise and enrichment. A slow walk does wonders for a senior dog.

Senior pets find their way to shelters usually through no fault of their own. Two key reasons are their previous owner may have died or had to move into care. Or sadly, a family may give up an elderly pet as they do not wish to see them die.

This means senior pets are often trained, come house broken, and don’t require the same level of socialisation as young pups or kittens.

You can enjoy your twilight years together at a complimentary pace, all while saving a life of a lovely pet. How’s that for a winning combination?

Companionship can help with isolation

An older man is driving in his convertible with two shaggy dogs along for the ride. They could be on their way to an animal veterinary clinic or out for an adventure.

Photo by Tim Mossholder via Unsplash

Having a pet gives people a reason to connect. It’s not uncommon for cats to make friends with the next neighbour – or the street! Exercising dogs can give you a great opportunity to meet and talk to people at the dog park, the shops and out and about. We see this a lot in Wahroonga and other local suburbs.

Pets give us someone else to think about and nurture. For many elderly Australians, you’ve probably spent your life loving and caring for your partner, your family, your workplace and your friends. As you get older, these connections can be less hands on. Sometimes, it can be a situation where you may feel you have a lot of love to give but not enough opportunity to show it.

This is when a pet can be ideal. You can gain friendship from your new pet – and the chance to connect with others in the process.

Peace of mind

We all know dogs are loyal and helpful. But did you know they also have added benefits when it comes to peace of mind?

Dogs can deter intruders or make those pesky doorknockers think again. No dog is too small help with barking away unwanted callers or alerting neighbours if you have an accident.

You can also train a dog to do specific tasks for you with the right kind of mentoring. For example, you can train a dog to-

  • Bark and seek to alert others if you fall or are injured
  • Push the button at the traffic lights
  • Unload the dryer
  • Bring you items around the home
  • Place things on the counter
  • Become sensitive to changes in mood and comfort you (e.g. with dementia, depression etc)

These would be the kinds of things that a retired assistance dog or a puppy that hasn’t made the training grade could offer you as supporting services. You can also teach these kinds of things to you dog with the right support and mentoring from a qualified trainer.

It’s definitely food for thought for anyone weighing up your home care options.

Volunteering with pets

Not only can you gain companionship and a reason to connect with others in the local Wahroonga area by having a pet, you can also consider other ways to use a love of pets to meet others.

For example, you might consider volunteering as a puppy raiser or relief carer for a charity such as Guide Dogs NSW or Assistance Dogs Australia. These kinds of organisations give you the added excuse to connect through puppy training and a shared cause. Many a retiree supports these great organisations by volunteering.

Or you could try foster caring for kittens, puppies and senior pets through a wide variety of organisations. This is where pets stay with you until they find a suitable home. Our vet nurses can help with advice on places where these kinds of volunteering roles are available in the Wahroonga area.

These situations are ideal if you’d love a pet’s company but are not sure you can make the same sort of decade or more commitment to a pet of your own.

Opportunities with pets

As a senior with a pet, you may be eligible for discounts.

At animal veterinary clinic Fox Valley Animal Hospital, we offer a senior’s day to residents of Wahroonga, Turramurra and surrounding local areas. We do this to help reduce the cost of pet care while also giving back to our senior’s community.

You may also be able to find other discounts available to you via insurance companies, accommodation, roadside assistance and more. We’ve also heard of senior’s discounts on boarding, grooming and other supporting services.

It pays to ask any regular pet-related service you make use of whether they honour the NSW seniors card or similar programs.

Want to know more about what a pet can add to your senior years? Pop on into our animal veterinary clinic at 107 Fox Valley Road, Wahroonga. We’re happy to talk cat, dog, rabbit, bird and more with you!

About the Author
Owner and Vet Alex Brittan, Vet Katie Syms and the team of Fox Valley Animal Hospital pride themselves on quality service. Fox Valley Animal Hospital is the one you choose for your family pet when the care your animal receives really matters.