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Nursing Home Companion Pets: Pros vs. Cons

As your loved ones get older, the relationship between a person and their pet can become even more important. Some animals can serve as companion pets, helping their owners more effectively tackle their day-to-day responsibilities.

Not everyone is meant to have a companion pet, though. If your loved one has requested a pet, you need to consider the pros and cons of connecting them with an animal companion.

The Pros of Having a Nursing Home Companion Pet

Animals are more attuned to their owners’ emotional and physical states than you might initially believe. As such, bringing a companion animal into your loved one’s life can do more than lift their spirits—it can also keep them safe from harm.


There is no friendship like that between a pet and its owner. Even when they’re not trained to do so, animals can bring a significant amount of comfort to someone who feels alone or sad. Companion animals can provide company to loved ones who don’t often see their families in nursing homes.

These pets can also make their owners feel more independent, as their owners may be required to feed, water, and clean up after a pet to keep them in a nursing home. This combination of companionship and responsibility can keep your loved one’s mind sharp as they continue to age.

Physical Support

Dogs and cats alike can both be trained to positively respond to their owners’ needs. Dogs can identify and intercede when a loved one contends with a physical injury, allergy, or mental health disorder. Cats, too, can warn their owners when something seems to be amiss with their owner’s health. These pets can even intercede in nursing home abuse cases.

With this in mind, a companion animal could provide more than emotional support for a loved one in a nursing home. Under some circumstances, a new pet could be trained to keep an eye on your loved one’s health. In turn, that pet could help protect your loved one from dangerous foods, falls, or other injuries.

The Cons of Having a Nursing Home Companion Pet

Unfortunately, maintaining a living space so that a pet feels safe, healthy, and secure isn’t always easy. If your loved one has requested a pet and received approval (as applicable), you need to consider that pet’s essential care as well as the risk of pet loss.

Essential Care

There are some pets that are easier to take care of than others. Fish, for example, do not require the same active attention as dogs. That said, you still need to make sure that your loved one is up for the challenge of caring for a pet as well as themselves.

While it may be possible to request that a nursing home staff or live-in aide help care for a pet, your loved one is still taking on the responsibility for the pet’s overall wellbeing. If your loved one can’t regularly go to the vet, remember to feed their pet, or protect the pet from harm, then they may not have the means to care for a companion animal.

Contending With Loss

There is always a chance that your loved one’s pet may suffer from an unexpected health complication. In these cases, the passing of a beloved pet may be too much for your loved one to understand or handle. If losing a pet may do more harm to your loved one’s well-being than their companionship would, consider alternatives to a traditional companion animal.

If You Are Concerned About Your Loved One’s Well Being in a Nursing Home, Reach Out to Our Team

Your loved ones deserve the right to emotional support as they get older. Whether that’s getting a companion or having reliable staff attending to them, the elderly can get vulnerable as they age. If you are concerned that your loved one is not being treated well by staff in their nursing home, they may be experiencing nursing home abuse. Reach out to a nursing home abuse lawyer for help on their behalf.

The Dalli & Marino, LLP, team can discuss with you the concerns you have about your loved one in regards to their well being and safety. Our team speaks Spanish as well as English, making it easier for us to address the concerns of diverse communities. If you have questions about an elderly loved one’s rights, you can call (888) 465-8790 or fill out our contact form today.

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