These Are the Worst Pets for Seniors and Retirees

There are so many benefits that come along with getting a new pet as a senior. According to Aging Care, pets can help reduce stress, lower blood pressure, increase social interaction and physical activity, and help [seniors] learn. Having a furry (or feathery or scaly) companion to keep you company is one of the best things in the world, at any age. But there are certain pets that just aren’t a good fit for seniors and retirees.

Read on to find out which animals to stay away from in your golden years.

1. Parrot

White Parrot - Sulphur-crested cockatoo
They get into all sorts of mischief. | Jure/Getty images

Lots of bird species make great companions for seniors. Unfortunately, the parrot is not one of them. Where other bird species sing, parrots scream. They’ve also been known to bite and require a lot of work to keep clean. Parrots need to be able to play, explore, and, well, make a mess. They have a tendency to strip and hollow your furniture when out of their cages. And even in their cages, they like to create quite a mess with their toys. For the senior or retiree who’s looking for a peaceful, low-key bird friend, a parrot is not the way to go.

2. Siberian husky

Siberian Husky puppy
Huskies are full of energy and need a lot of exercise. |

Siberian huskies are beautiful dogs, though they’re not an excellent pet choice for seniors. While they may seem regal and statuesque, they’re actually quite hyperactive. They have tons of energy, so they need lots of exercise and playtime. They also aren’t the easiest dogs to keep clean. You have to frequently brush and groom them, which can cut into much of the day and could be too much work for a senior to take on.

3. Pixie frogs

African giant bullfrog
Pixie frogs don’t live up to their name. |

Because they’re small, not too loud, and you can buy them at almost any pet store, one might think frogs (especially pixie frogs) are easy pets. However, the “pixie,” in the name is pretty misleading. Derived from their Latin name, Pyxicephalus adspersus, pixie frogs are actually just young African bullfrogs, which take up a lot more space. Another thing to keep in mind is that African bullfrogs typically live up to 20 years (and living 40 years isn’t unheard of). If you think you might not be able to continue giving your pet the attention it needs for up to 40 years, a pixie frog probably isn’t the best option.

4. Saltwater fish

fish in aquarium
Surprisingly hard work to take care of fish. |

Unless you have someone to help you with the upkeep of a saltwater aquarium, saltwater fish don’t make excellent pets for seniors and retirees. As Live Aquaria suggests, “A saltwater aquarium requires diligent maintenance to keep it clean, temperature-controlled, and properly lit. Salinity is also paramount, so replacing evaporated water each day is critical.” Basically, it’s a lot of work. If you don’t have the time, energy, or budget (lots of seniors live on a fixed income) to keep the creatures in your saltwater aquarium clean and healthy, it’s better to avoid the whole thing altogether.

5. Bearded dragon

Bearded Dragons
Reptiles are notoriously particular. |

Bearded dragons are growing in popularity as pets. They can recognize their owner’s voice and touch and are pretty friendly overall. However, much like saltwater fish, they require some specific, perhaps burdensome, upkeep. Firstly, they’re particular about their environment and require the right amount of UV light, heat, and moisture. If they don’t have enough UV light, the correct temperature (ranging from 70 to 90 degrees), or the proper humidity to stay hydrated and shed their skin, they could die. Additionally, they need to eat insects at least three times a week. If you aren’t up for grabbing a bag full of crickets from the pet store every so often, a beardie isn’t the pet for you.

6. Australian shepherd

Australian shepherd
The perfect pet for active families. |

Australian shepherds are working dogs through and through. They require a lot of attention and playtime. When they’re not trying to herd who or what’s around them, they want to play fetch or run around. Though they’re typically way more active as puppies, they still don’t ever truly calm down. Perfect for an active family, energetic Australian shepherds don’t make the best pets for seniors and retirees.

7. Horse (all breeds)

wild horses
Owning horses is difficult, especially for those who are new to it. | Assateague Island National Seashore via Facebook

Horses can be amazing for seniors and even have positive effects on those with Alzheimer’s. However, if you don’t already own a horse or you’re a first-time horse owner in your late 50s and beyond, caring for a horse on your own can prove extremely difficult. Not only are they very expensive, they need daily attention, care and exercise. Riding a horse can be difficult on the body — especially if you’re experiencing other aches and pains. So if you feel your body isn’t in horse-riding shape, owning a horse isn’t the best idea.

8. Dalmatian

Dalmatian peaking out of window
Dalmatians need lots of obedience training. | Oliver Lang/AFP/Getty Images)

Dalmatians require a great deal of exercise and training. If they don’t get the exercise they need and aren’t diligently taught obedience, it can lead to boredom, hyperactivity, and destructive behaviors. Dogs this athletic need to go jogging, hiking, or biking with their owners on a regular basis, and they should have a wide, enclosed space to run around in. So because of their high energy and sometimes problematic behavior, Dalmatians don’t make great pets for seniors and retirees.

9. Somali cats

Somali Cat
Somali cats are high maintenance. | Heikki N/Wikimedia Commons

Though lots of cats make great pets for seniors, there are a few breeds that may be a bit too active and a bit too much work. Somali cats are one of those breeds. Somalis have beautiful long hair, but that necessitates constant grooming and sweeping/vacuuming. They also have a tendency to open cabinets and doors, which can be troublesome for seniors. When they’re not opening doors and perusing your cabinets, they love to run around, jump, or even play fetch. They’re a perfect cat for an active family but not a great choice for seniors and retirees.