Perfect Pets for Seniors + Pet-Friendly Apartments for Seniors in Ocean County, NJ

Perfect Pets for Seniors + Pet-Friendly Apartments for Seniors in Ocean County, NJ

Are you a cat person or a dog person? New research shows that pets not only improve the quality of life for most people; they bring a special type of joy to seniors enjoying retirement!  We took this fact  into consideration when designing the newest luxury retirement living apartment community for active seniors in New Jersey. Barnegat 67 offers pet-friendly apartments for seniors in Ocean County, NJ,  with an on-site dog run in the outdoor rooftop lounge! So, for those of you who’ve   had pets your whole life or anyone considering bringing one into their life for the first time, we’ve asked pet expert Liz London to give us a full rundown on what types of pets are best for active, older adults who live in apartments.

Research has shown that our bond with our pets goes beyond an emotional connection and the entertainment value they bring to our homes.  Having an in-home pet companion can help reduce stress, lower blood pressure, and motivate owners in ways no other hobby or exercise regimen can.

For adults 55 and up, having pet companions provides additional benefits, too!

If the doctor’s orders include daily walks for heart health, joint mobility, or weight loss, you’ll be interested to know that one survey showed that dog owners walk more often and for longer periods of time than non-owners. Pet owners in general showed significantly lower serum triglycerides than non-owners. In general, pet owners demonstrated an enhanced ability to perform what researchers labeled “Activities of Daily Living.”

Even after just one year, pet ownership boosts social support, psychological well-being, and provides motivation and purpose for daily life enjoyment. (In the referenced study, psychological health was measured as a summed score comprising “the level of satisfaction regarding one's health, family and friend relationships, job, finances, life in general, overall happiness, and perceived mental health.”) Seniors found significant comfort in a daily routine that surrounded the care and enrichment of their pets. Many older adults even admitted a heightened sense of security associated with having a dog at their side or a pet in the house with a heightened alertness.

What Qualities Should Seniors Look for in a Pet When Moving into?

Of course, not just any pet would make a great companion for a senior.  When considering bringing a furry new friend (or one with scales or feathers, for that matter!) consider your lifestyle, environment, finances, and any health limitations first.

Generally speaking, seniors benefit most from a pet that requires little maintenance.  A long-haired dog that requires daily detailed grooming and regular professional grooming, for example, may add more trouble than its worth, especially if its owner suffers from arthritic pain in the hands. Dog breeds that are notorious for chronic health complications are also discouraged, such as English bulldogs, whose chronic skin and respiratory issues bring them to the veterinarian on average 5-7 times per year (costing over $3,000 annually), as reported by owners in the US.  Amphibians that require live insect meals 3-4 times per week would also present a challenge for someone who doesn’t want to drive to the pet store frequently or raise a colony of feeder crickets in the back yard!

Another consideration that tops the list for pets for seniors is avoiding those with high energy expenditure requirements. This includes sporting dogs like the Weimaraner, pointers, spaniels, terriers, and the spitz family, as well as other notoriously energetic pooches like boxers and border collies. These dogs need plenty of room to run or fast-paced walks/jogs multiple times a day in order to be healthy and happy. Without regular rigorous activity, these types of dogs often turn destructive in the home. Ferrets also go through daily bouts of high energy, needing regular supervision and attention in order to avoid destruction in your home or accidental injury in their habitat.

Seniors should also be aware of whether the pet they’re interested in is known for having a gentle, soft nature.  For example, pet behaviorists and veterinarians recommend seniors skip adopting a puppy or kitten and go straight for an older dog or cat.  Puppies and kittens are both heavy chewers during the teething stage, and their needle-sharp baby teeth easily break the skin and cause bruising for owners during play sessions. Hamsters and gerbils (and even a few types of rabbit) are fast-moving and hard to handle for many people, let alone seniors, so if having a pet that will sit in your lap for snuggle sessions is in your wishlist, these might need to be discounted.

Animals that have a naturally social side typically make for great senior pets. A pet that will bond with its owner, show loyalty and affection will bring joy to both parties for years to come!

Pets That are Great for Those Living in Apartments for Seniors in Ocean County, NJ

Dogs

There are dozens of reasons why dogs are considered man’s best friend, but finding the right fit for your lifestyle means doing your research and possibly meeting several individual dogs to gauge their personality.

For breed recommendations, I’d suggest the following:

The Bichon Frise is a small breed of dog suited to lap-dog living. In fact, they were bred for it! Their cheerful, affectionate personalities make for great companionship, and their small size, low energy requirements, and low shedding make them great for apartment living.  Shih Tzus are similarly suited, though their long silky fur does require a daily brush. Toy poodles and Cavalier King Charles are another great consideration, and their cleverness and ability to learn adds a fun dynamic to daily training together.

If a small dog isn’t your choice, consider adopting a retired greyhound. Though wildly speedy in their younger years, mature greyhounds are notoriously calm couch potatoes. Golden retrievers are classic companions, due to their friendliness and ease to train, though adolescent goldies do have a high energy requirement – so consider adopting an adult! Just bear in mind that many apartments for seniors, Ocean County NJ’s Barnegat 67 included, have a weight restriction for dogs. That might rule out the larger Golden Retriever, while greyhounds would still fit in well!

Who says you can’t consider other breeds, however, or mixed-breeds who need rescuing? Adopting a mixed-breed dog will require due diligence – go to the shelters and take the time to play one-on-one with dogs that catch your attention. Ask the staff and volunteers about their personalities – many shelters even have a questionnaire for adopters to fill out that will help the staff narrow the options down to a selection of individuals that might suit you best. As a dog trainer, I’ve personally worked with humane societies that devote a lot of attention to personality profiling pups to find their best home, so don’t be shy to ask for help! Even then, many shelters allow you to “test run” a dog for a week before deciding whether he or she is the right fit for you.

Cats

If your motivation for companionship doesn’t revolve around getting out together for daily walks, then the rest of these pet categories might be perfect for you!  Most cats don’t require exercise, and the enrichment they’ll love best won’t require you to leave the couch! A flick of a cat wand or strip of ribbon is all it takes for hours of fun with a cat. Plus, most cats are grazers, meaning all you have to do is check that their bowls have food and water every day and clean the litter box every few days.

Small animals

In the pet industry, when speaking of ‘small companion animals,’ we refer to pets like hamsters, guinea pigs, ferrets, gerbils, and rabbits. These types of pets are typically housed in cage-style habitats, making clean-up relatively easy compared to a free-roaming pet that could damage the home and requiring potty training. Rabbits and guinea pigs are my top two recommendations for anyone looking for low-maintenance critters who enjoy a cuddle.  Both are large enough to handle easily and content to watch your favorite TV program with you. 

Reptiles

You might not think of reptiles as an obvious choice of pet, but if low-maintenance is what you’re seeking, a reptilian roommate is worth a consideration. While insect-eating reptiles aren’t high on my suggestion list, there are certain snakes like small boas and corn snakes that eat frozen/thawed meals once per week, only require cage cleanings a few times per month, and would also happily watch the afternoon soaps with you.  A visit to a local pet store or the zoo’s animal ambassador day might have you enjoying the neck massage of a boa or working out arthritic hand cramps with a corn snake gliding through your fingers!

Birds

Feathered friends have the potential to be cheerful companions for seniors.  Smaller ones like parakeets or lovebirds don’t require much space, especially if you have the vet safely trim their flight feathers. Relatively low maintenance and high in personality and cheerful charm, small birds are known to bond with their owners and even offer regular snuggling and preening – not to mention potentially learning to serenade you at sunset.  Parrots are not recommended, as their strong and large beaks have the potential for serious bites if an interaction goes badly. With any bird, especially parrots, noise can be an issue.  Be sure to familiarize yourself with the volume of various birds’ vocalizations, so that you don’t bring home a noisy neighbor.

 Fish

The lowest maintenance of all pets would, of course, be fish! My recommendation for the aquatically-inclined is to start with a small, 10-gallon sized tank with colorful freshwater fish, such as large shimmering gourami, colorful guppies, or the friendly goldfish. A well-filtered system only needs a monthly water change (which can be easily outsourced to a local pet store employee who makes in-home visits).  Though your fish may not cuddle or motivate you to get out and about, the relaxing benefits of watching them swim, the soft lights, and the gentle bubbling noises of the filtering systems all offer comforting benefits in an otherwise quiet apartment.

Pets That are Great for Ocean County, NJ

For readers who are considering a move to Barnegat 67, apartments for seniors in Ocean County, NJ, (or for those who are current residents), we encourage you to consider one more factor: are they suitable to our New Jersey climate, your beach lifestyle, and apartment living?

With the beaches beckoning for sandy strolls only 10 minutes away, a dog that enjoys a sunset saunter and perhaps a splash in the surf would be a perfect fit.

Keep in mind: pugs and bulldogs, though charismatic and small, not only notoriously hate the water, but also struggle with a day at the beach due to their shortened snouts and respiratory complications. Also, many toy breeds with curly or silky hair will require extra grooming after a romp in the sand and surf.

When meeting potential adoptable mixed-breeds, take the time to ask the staff and volunteers about each dog’s personality.  Ask if they’ve ever seen the dog around water. Many shelters will even allow a trial period for your family to take a dog out for a trial day of fun together to see how well he/she might fit with your lifestyle and home.

And of course, when perusing pooches to call your own for your NJ home, bear in mind whether their fur length and climate preferences will accommodate outdoor walks year-round, or if they’ll need to stick to shivering indoors when the snow comes.

Though they might not enjoy long walks on the beach, cats, birds, reptiles, fish, and small animals do make excellent apartment pets for seniors.

Regarding our NJ climate, keep in mind that reptiles must have a heated area of their habitat where they can warm themselves as needed. If they stay below optimal temperature for too long, they won’t be able to digest their meals. So, if the power ever goes out for an extended period of time, you’ll need to have a back-up plan like a generator or a friend who can keep your reptile pets warm in the meantime.

Pet-Friendly Apartments for Seniors in Ocean County, NJ

For seniors looking for a new home that will accommodate pets, consider Barnegat 67: pet-friendly apartments for seniors in Ocean County, NJ.

With a one-time pet deposit of $200, residents are welcome to share their apartment with one or two pets weighing no more than 100 pounds combined. We require dogs to be under 50lbs and we restrict the following breeds: Rottweiler, Doberman, Mastiffs, Chow, German Shepherd, St. Bernard, Staffordshire Terrier/Pit Bull, Dalmatian, Akita, Husky, Great Dane, Wolf Breeds, Shar Pei, Bull Terrier, Cocker Spaniel, Elkhounds, Presa Canarios, or any other breed that is deemed to have vicious characteristics. Cats must be indoor cats and only domestic breeds are allowed.

Barnegat 67 introduces hassle-free, luxury retirement living apartments for seniors in Ocean County, NJ. We’re located in the beautiful city of Barnegat, only 10 minutes from the nearest beach. So, if frequent sunset strolls on the sandy beaches of the Jersey Shore with your best friend are in your retirement dreams, then Barnegat 67 is the perfect place for you.

Discover our 1 & 2-bedroom apartments with high-quality finishes and an extensive indoor-outdoor amenity package, including a roof-top dog run and a dog fountain!

We have all the comforts and services you need in one prime location just off the Garden State Parkway – with 5 veterinarians, 6 pet boarding services (for those times you need help while away), and 5 pet supply stores easily reachable in 10 minutes or less.

Give us a call to talk about making the move to Barnegat 67 or adding a pet to your current rental contract!

 

Liz London, CPDT-KA is a former zookeeper, certified dog trainer through the Certifying Council of Professional Dog Trainers & the Karen Pryor Academy with regular continuing education courses from the top animal trainers from all over the world. Her work at the Memphis Zoo specialized in small mammals, reptiles, amphibians and aquatics. In her work as a dog trainer, she trained gundogs, search & rescue canines, and helped people raise happy, healthy, and well-behaved pet companions for over twelve years in various pet stores, veterinarians, and in private practice.

 

References:

Pet Ownership May Be a Factor in Improved Health of the Elderly

Diane Dembicki PhD & , 1996.

 

Influence of Companion Animals on the Physical and Psychological Health of Older People: An Analysis of a One‐Year Longitudinal Study Parminder Raina PhD, David Waltner‐Toews DVM, PhD, Brenda Bonnett DVM, PhD, Christel Woodward PhD, Tom Abernathy PhD, 27 April 2015

 

Effect of Dog-Walking on Autonomic Nervous Activity in Senior Citizens Motooka, M., et al., 2006  The Medical Journal of Australia, Vol. 184, Issue 2, pgs. 60-63