Did you know that adopting a pet can help improve your mental and emotional health, especially as your grow older?

Many seniors face living with loneliness. Losing friends and family through the years can exacerbate depression, anxiety and even physical symptoms such as chronic pain.

This guide illustrates the many ways adopting a pet can help you live in the present and enjoy life.

If you’re ready to adopt a pet, or if you want to find pet and animal therapy options in your area, this guide will help you decide what fits best into your life.

Owning a Pet Can Reduce Depression

The overwhelming feeling of loneliness can be eased when you adopt a pet. Pets can give an older adult feeling of purpose and responsibility, and it allows them to focus on something other than their physical ailments or the loss of loved ones.

“Having a pet helps the senior focus on something other than their physical problems and negative preoccupations about loss or aging.” - Dr. Penny Donnefield, Ph.D., Clinical Psychology1

This distraction of focus can make a big difference in easing depression, anxiety and overall mental health.

Owning a Pet Can Have Physical Benefits

A pet – especially a dog – will need regular walks and activity. When a senior adopts a pet, it can give them a reason to be more active, which will have long-term positive effects on their health.

From heart health to joint pain to obesity prevention and more, a pet owner who walks their dog a few times a day will most likely be healthier than someone who does not take this time to focus on physical activity.

In fact, one study said that older adults who regularly walked their dog had “greater functional ability” than seniors who either didn’t own a dog or didn’t walk their dog.

Dog owners spend 50% more time walking than people who don't walk with their dog, suggesting that owning a dog can help motivate older adults to be more active.2

The benefits of regular low-impact exercise such as walking can be tremendous for seniors. Having a pet gives you a reason to get more active and a companion for your walks!

Owning a Pet Can Give Your Life More Structure

Owning a pet can help give your life more structure and purpose.

At moments when you may not want to get out of the house on your own, you may be more compelled to do it if your pet needs some time outside. These regular walks can become part of your structured routine.

When you wake up in the morning, you will need to feed your pet or take your dog outside. At midday, you need to do it again. You’ll probably repeat these steps again around dinner time and again right before bed.

Now you’ve added routine activity to your days.

This regular routine can make life more fulfilling, as you may feel needed and that you have responsibility, important tasks and a purpose.

Owning a Pet Offers Companionship and Love

Another key benefit of pet ownership that can have far-reaching impact on the mental and physical health of a senior is the added companionship.

Many older adults may find themselves living alone, perhaps due to the death of their spouse. This can be a traumatic time as they adjust to being alone.

A pet can help immensely during a time like this, as they offer both companionship and the feeling of being loved.

A pet can help teach you to live in the present, simply because they do not worry about tomorrow. They are happy to be with you today.

Parts are excited to be near you and spend time with you, and they give you a living presence to help fill the space left by a loved one who is no longer there.

Owning a Pet Can Make You Feel More Secure

Whether you have a small cat or a golden retriever, having a pet can help you to feel safer and more secure at home.

Most pets take the safety of their owner very seriously and can alert you to potential danger. Whether you are on a walk or at home, a barking dog can be a deterrent to thieves and other would-be criminals.

Owning a Pet Can Increase Social Interaction

Many adults become more solitary and withdrawn as they get older – especially when it comes to new forming relationships.

Pets can offer you their own companionship, and they can also increase the number of social interactions with others. A pet can offer common ground and put you in situations to meet new acquaintances and help to build social bonds with others.

Going to visit the dog park, a pet store, the vet’s office or any number of other places you may go with your pet can give you an opportunity to make new friends who also have pets and who may share some of your common interests in animals.


As you can see, owning a pet can have many benefits for seniors.

Even though pet ownership does require some work, it can offer immense mental, social and physical health benefits, such as:

  • Reduced stress and depression
  • Added security
  • Opportunities for social interaction
  • Increased physical activity
  • Companionship
  • Purpose and structure

The key is to find the right pet for you and your particular lifestyle. So how do you get started?

How to Get Started Adopting a Pet

If you’re excited to add a new pet to your home, you need to get a few things prepared. Before you adopt a pet, make sure you get some of the items listed below. You may  be able to get some of these items used, or you may need to purchase them from a pet store or another department store.

Some things you need for a new pet include:

  • Pet food
  • Collar and leash
  • Pet Cage, create or bed
  • Pet toys

Costs for these items can range, depending on the size of the pet you are adopting, as well as the type of supplies that you choose.

Make sure that you find food that is intended for your pet’s age, size and breed.

To help you get started here are some national and state-specific resources who can help you adopt a pet.

Included in this guide are additional resources for things like pet sitting, pet matching and more. Some of the resources below may even offer discounts for senior citizens.

National Resources


You can search the online database at Petfinder to find animals who need homes. The database includes nearly 11,000 animal shelters and adoption organizations across the United States, Canada and Mexico.

Pets for Patriots

Pets for Patriots helps United States military veterans adopt a new pet friend and offers varioius benefits to make pet ownership more affordable.

Adopt A Pet.com

Adopt a Pet.com is a non-profit pet adoption website that helps over 17,000 animal shelters, pet adoption agencies and other groups connect potential pet owners to animals looking for a home. 

The Grey Muzzle Organization

The Grey Muzzle Organization helps to find homes for older dogs who no longer live with their original owners. This non-profit organization can help match senior citizens with older dogs who may be a good match for adoption.

Pets for the Elderly Foundation

The Pets for the Elderly Foundation helps pay the fees – including pre-adoption veterinary exams and spay/neuter costs – at participating animal shelters throughout the United States for senior citizens (age 60 and over) who adopt a companion dog or cat from a participating shelter.

Resource guides

Our resource guides provide helpful information and assistance for a range of topics such as prescription drug costs, alcohol abuse, fall prevention, senior hunger and more.


1 Ballinger, B. The Healilng Power of Pets for Seniors. (Updated Aug. 20, 2018). Retrieved from www.agingcare.com/articles/benefits-of-elderly-owning-pets-113294.htm.

2 Gretebeck, K. A., et al. Dog Ownership, Functional Ability, and Walking in Community-Dwelling Older Adults. (July, 2013). Journal of Physcial Activity and Health, 10(5), 646-655. https://doi.org/10.1123/jpah.10.5.646.

State Resources for Pet Adoption

Select your state



Lee County Humane Society

Phone: (334) 821-3222

Greater Birmingham Humane Society

Phone: (205) 942-1211

East Alabama Humane Society

Phone: (334) 298-6446


Juneau Animal Rescue

Phone: (907) 789-0260

Clear Creek Cat Rescue

Phone: (907) 980-8898


Santa Cruz Humane Society

Phone: (520) 287-5654

Humane Society of Central Arizona

Phone: (928) 474-5590

Arizona Pet Project

Phone: (602) 882-8627


Sherwood Animal Services

Phone: (501) 835-5319

Humane Society of the Ozarks

Phone: (479) 444-7387

For Pets Sake

Phone: (479) 313-3785


San Diego Humane Society

Phone: (619) 299-7012

Los Angeles Area ASPCA

Phone: (212) 876-7700

City of Sacramento Animal Care Services

Phone: (888) 245-8859

Peace of Mind Dog Rescue

Phone: (831) 718-9122


Denver Dumb Friends League

Phone: (303) 751-5772

Aurora Animal Shelter

Phone: (303) 739-7000

Fort Morgan Humane Society

Phone: (970) 542-6416


Animal Welfare Society Seniors for Seniors

Phone: (860) 354-1350

Pets on Wheels

Phone: (860) 595-2950

Furry Friends Foster and Rescue

Phone: (413) 664-2096


Delaware Humane Society

Phone: (302) 571-0111

Delaware Valley Golden Retriever Rescue

Phone: (717) 484-4799

District Of Columbia

Humane Rescue Alliance

Phone: 202-576-6664

Capital Humane Society

Phone: (402) 441-4488 ext.1


Pet Alliance of Greater Orlando

Phone: (407) 351-7722

Hillsborough County Pet Resource Center

Phone: (813) 744-5660

Humane Society of Broward County

Phone: (954) 989-3977

Panhandle Animal Welfare Society

Phone: (850) 685-6003


Paws Atlanta Seniors 4 Seniors

Phone: (770) 593-1155

Paws Columbus Pets for the Elderly

Phone: (706) 565-0035

Coastal Pet Rescue, Savannah

Phone: (912) 228-3538


Hawaiian Humane Society

Phone: (808) 356-2200

PAWS of Hawaii

Phone: (808) 757-9220


Idaho Humane Society

Phone: (208) 342-3508

Bannock Humane Society

Phone: (208) 232-0371

Pocatello Animal Services

Phone: (208) 234-6156


Pets for Seniors

Phone: (309) 446-9721

Anti-Cruelty Society Pets for Seniors

Phone: (312) 644-8338

Animal Protection League Pets for the Elderly Program

Phone: (217) 544-7387

Adopt a Senior Pet

Phone: (847) 529-2025


Indy Humane Society

Phone: (317) 872-5650

Porter County Animal Shelter

Phone: (219) 465-3550

Hamilton Humane Society

Phone: (317) 773-4974

Vanderburgh Humane Society

Phone: (812) 426-2563


Animal Rescue League of Iowa

Phone: (515) 262-9503

Siouxland Humane Society Pets for Seniors

Phone: (712) 252-2614

Dogs Forever Seniors for Seniors

Phone: (319) 320-5522


Kansas Humane Society

Phone: (316) 524-9196

Caring Hands Humane Society

Phone: (316) 283-0839


Humane Society of Oldham County Snugglers for Seniors

Phone: (502) 222-7537

Kentucky Humane Society Seniors for Seniors

Phone: (502) 366-3355

McCracken Humane Society

Phone: (270) 443-5923


North Shore Humane Society Seniors for Seniors

Phone: (985) 892-7387

Louisiana SPCA

Phone: (504) 368-5191

Companion Animal Alliance of Baton Rouge

Phone: (225) 408-5360


PAWS Animal Adoption Center

Phone: (207) 236-8702

Hart Adoption Center

Phone: (207) 829-4116

Greater Androscoggin Humane Society Special Pets for Seniors

Phone: (207) 783-2311


Baltimore Humane Society

Phone: (410) 833-8848

Anne Arundel County SPCA Seniors for Seniors

Phone: (410) 268-4388

Allegany County Animal Shelter Seniors for Seniors Program

Phone: (301) 777-2168


Worcester Animal Rescue League Senior for Senior

Phone: (508) 853-0030

Second Chance

Phone: (508) 867-5525

Scituate Animal Shelter

Phone: (781) 544-4533


Muskegon Humane Society

Phone: (231) 773-8689

Humane Society of Genesee County Golden Friendship

Phone: (810) 744-0511

Michigan Animal Rescue League Seniors for Seniors

Phone: (248) 335-9290

Last Day Dog Rescue

Phone: (248) 921-2850


Animal Allies of Minnesota Sidekicks for Seniors

Phone: (218) 722-5341

Ruff Start Rescue Seniors for Seniors

Phone: (763) 355-3981

Tri-County Humane Society Seniors/Veteran Adoption Discounts

Phone: (320) 252-0896


Southern Pines Animal Shelter

Phone: (601) 544-6632

Brookhaven Animal Rescue League

Phone: (601) 757-4367

Mississippi Animal Rescue League

Phone: (601) 969-1631


Humane Society of Missouri

Phone: (314) 647-8800

Stray Rescue of St. Louis

Phone: (314) 771-6121

Open Door Animal Shelter

Phone: (636) 671-3643


AniMeals Seniors for Seniors

Phone: (406) 721-4710

Lewis & Clark Humane Society

Phone: (406) 442-1660

Stafford Animal Shelter

Phone: (406) 222-2111


Animal Shelter of Northeast Nebraska Pets for the Elderly

Phone: (402) 750-4665

Capital Humane Society

Phone: (402) 441-4488

Plattsmouth Animal Shelter

Phone: (402) 298-8235


Animal Foundation

Phone: (702) 384-3333

Nevada Humane Society

Phone: (775) 856-2000

Catmandu Senior 2 Senior Foster Program

Phone: (775) 297-3419

New Hampshire

New Hampshire SPCA

Phone: (603) 772-2921

Salem Animal Rescue League

Phone: (603) 893-3210

Pope Memorial SPCA

Phone: (603) 856-8756

New Jersey

Animal Welfare Alliance New Jersey Seniors for Seniors

Phone: (856) 424-2288

South Jersey Regional Animal Shelter

Phone: (856) 691-1500

Voorhees Animal Orphanage Seniors for Seniors Program

Phone: (856) 627-9111

New Mexico

Dona Ana County Humane Society Pets for Seniors

Phone: (575) 647-4808

Albuquerque Animal Welfare Department

Phone: (505) 242-2677

Animal Humane of New Mexico

Phone: (505) 255-5523

New York

ASPCA Pet Adoption

Phone: (212) 876-7700

Animal Protective Foundation

Phone: (518) 374-3944

Saratoga County Animal Shelter

Phone: (518) 885-4113

City of Rochester Animal Shelter

Phone: (585) 428-7600

Seniors for Seniors

Phone: (516) 883-7900

North Carolina

Humane Society of Eastern Carolina Seniors for Seniors Program

Phone: (252) 413-7247

Orange County North Carolina Animal Services

Phone: (919) 942-7387

SPCA of Wake County

Phone: (919) 772-2326

North Dakota

Homeward Animal Shelter Adoption Discounts for Seniors

Phone: (701) 239-0077

Cats Cradle Rescue and Shelter

Phone: (701) 356-7877

Central Dakota Humane Society

Phone: (701) 667-2020


Humane Society of Summit County

Phone: (330) 487-0333

Rescue Village Pets for the Elderly

Phone: (440) 338-4819

Elder Paws

Phone: (513) 947-2727

Almost Home Ohio Senior to Senior Program

Phone: (614) 800-3320


Newcastle Animal Control

Phone: (405)-387-4427

Oklahoma Orphaned Poodle Rescue

Phone: (918) 698-4658

Oklahoma Humane Society

Phone: (405) 947-7729


Greenhill Humane Society Senior Assistance Program

Phone: (541) 689.1503

Oregon Humane Society

Phone: (503) 285-7722

Haven Humane

Phone: (541) 928-2789


Humane Animal Rescue

Phone: (412) 345-7300

Harrisburg Humane Society Mature Pets for Mature People

Phone: (717) 564-3320

Philly Pets and Seniors

Phone: (215) 238-9901

Rhode Island

Animal Rescue Rhode Island

Phone: (401) 783-7606

Potter League

Phone: (401) 846-8276

Providence Animal Rescue League

Phone: (401) 421-1399

South Carolina 

South Carolina Pet Programs for Seniors

Phone: (800) 868-9095

Western Hills Humane Society Seniors for Seniors

Phone: (605) 642-1576

The Humane Society of Greenwood

Phone: (864) 223-2498

South Dakota 

Sioux Falls Humane Society

Phone: (605) 338-4441

Western Hills Humane Society

Phone: (605) 642-1576


Knoxville Paws

Phone: (865) 524-2786

All About Rescue and Fixin’, Inc.

Phone: (931) 260-8018


Citizens for Animal Protection

Phone: (281) 497-0591

Midland Humane Coalition Senior to Senior Program

Phone: (432) 557-3405

SPCA of Texas Senior Discounts

Phone: (214) 742-7722

Georgetown Animal Services Senior to Senior

Phone: (512) 930-3640


Salt Lake County Animal Services Seniors for Seniors

Phone: (385) 468-7387

Humane Society of Utah

Phone: (801) 261-2919

Best Friends in Utah

Phone: (801) 574-2454


Franklin County Animal Rescue

Phone: (802) 524-9650

North Country Animal League

Phone: (802) 888-5065

Lucy Mackenzie Humane Society Sophie's Seniors for Seniors

Phone: (802) 484-5829


Richmond SPCA Seniors for Seniors

Phone: (804) 521-1300

Fancy Cats and Dogs Senior Cats for Senior Laps

Phone: (703) 961-1056

Paws for Seniors

Phone: (540) 748-8177

Portsmouth Humane Society

Phone: (757) 397-6004


Auburn Valley Humane Society Senior Pets for Seniors

Phone: (253) 249-7849

Reber Ranch

Phone: (253) 630-3330

Humane Society for Southwest Washington

Phone: (360) 984-6060

PAWS’ Seniors for Seniors

Phone: (425) 787-2500 ext. 850

West Virginia 

Animal Friends of Barbour County

Phone: (304) 823-2012

Alexandria Animals

Phone: (703) 746-4774


Chequamegon Humane Association Pets for Seniors

Phone: (715) 682-9744

Oconto Area Humane Society

Phone: (920) 835-1738

Underdog Pet Rescue

Phone: (608) 224-0018


Animal Adoption Center

Phone: (307) 739-1881

Cheyenne Animal Shelter

Phone: (307) 632-6655

Wyoming Animal Rescue

Phone: (307) 632-6655