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Is Senior Housing Pet-Friendly? – Ask

Moving into senior housing from your longtime family home can be overwhelming. Finding out that you can’t bring along your favorite pet can be downright devastating. With a little research, however, you will find that pet-friendly senior housing does exist. There’s even pet-friendly assisted living. Restrictions may limit the number, kind, and size of animals allowed, but in many cases, you will be able to have your pet with you.

Senior woman with dog, to illustrate article on pet-friendly senior housing.

Benefits of Pet Ownership for Seniors

Seniors who own a cat or dog are healthier, happier, and live longer. Studies have shown that pets are good for your physical and emotional well-being. A pet provides an opportunity to socialize with others, gives you a sense of purpose, and helps you remain active. Having a pet can help you focus on something other than your own health or physical problems.

Other benefits of pet ownership include:

  • Reduced stress
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Increased learning
  • More spontaneity
  • Reduced depression
  • Less loneliness
  • Mental stimulation
  • Higher survival rate after a heart attack
  • Lower cholesterol and triglycerides
  • Better self-esteem
  • Higher spirits for those with a memory impairment

Senior man with cat, to illustrate article on pet-friendly senior housing.

Finding Pet-Friendly Senior Housing

More senior living communities are recognizing that residents who own pets feel more comfortable and safe when their furry companions are with them. That’s why more communities are allowing and encouraging pet ownership. In fact, as of August 2017, among advertisers on, 78% of our senior-living communities welcomed pets

Pet-friendly senior housing units usually allow cats, small- to medium-sized dogs, and other small animals such as birds and fish. Some senior communities have “community” dogs and cats that live on site. A few nursing homes and assisted living facilities even have pet chickens. You may even find a community that offers pet care and grooming among its extra services.

However, even pet-friendly senior housing communities might set weight limits, cap the number of pets you are allowed, or require a deposit or fee.

Questions to Ask Pet-Friendly Communities

When you find a cat- or dog-friendly senior housing community, you want to make sure it is designed to handle pets well. Questions to ask a community include:

  • What are the building’s rules regarding pets?
  • Are the rooms in your unit large enough for a pet?
  • How much of a deposit or fee is required upon move-in?
  • Is there a safe place to take your dog or cat for a walk?
  • Is the pet area well-lit at night?
  • Is there a place for your pet to do its business? tip: When looking at senior housing communities on, whether assisted living or senior apartments, most properties will list a pet policy on their listing. You may need to call the community, however, to get the specifics and make sure your dog or cat qualifies.

Best Dog Breeds for Seniors

A Shih Tzu, a dog breed recommended for seniors.

A Shih Tzu, a dog breed recommended for seniors.

Unfortunately, you may not be compatible with every type of dog, cat, or other animal. You will need a pet that has a great temperament, is well-trained, and is good around older adults.

In this situation, older pets are better than puppies for retired persons. They typically are better trained, are housebroken, obey commands, and can walk well on a leash. The best size and breed of a dog depends on your ability to care for the pet.

If you find pet-friendly senior housing, but your community has a weight limit on dogs, you’ll want to consider smaller breeds. Suggested small dog breeds for seniors include:

  • Shih Tzu
  • Pug
  • Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
  • Boston Terrier
  • Miniature Schnauzer
  • Poodle
  • Maltese
  • Bolognese
  • Yorkshire Terrier
  • Pekingese


Your turn: What has been your experience with pet-friendly senior housing? Would you recommend other dog breeds for seniors, or suggest a cat instead? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Editor’s note: This article was originally published Oct. 31, 2016, and updated Aug. 31, 2017.

What Are Your Senior Housing Questions?

Ask After55 is a monthly feature of by correspondent Mary Beth Adomaitis. Submit your questions for consideration in one of two ways:

– Comment below on this article. (Your question will be displayed publicly, so we suggest that you don’t include personally identifying information.)

Fill out this form. (Your question will be sent to us privately. Note, however, that we aren’t able to answer all questions, especially in individual situations.)

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  • Mary Beth Adomaitis

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    Mary Beth Adomaitis a freelance writer living in Southern California. She has written about senior topics for several senior living websites. She also has a blog, Unwrinkled Hearts, which was started after her mother-in-law passed away in 2015. It focuses on elderly living in the 21st century. Mary Beth has been a writer/journalist for more than 25 years, lending her talents to companies such as The Los Angeles Times, where she also served as a copy editor and graphic designer.


    1. mary brightman says:

      I have rescued my dogs mixed sizes and have lived independent but suddenly due to health and financial I need elderly low income. I can appreciate the size on pets but not everyone plans 10 years ahead and only have pets that may fit in elderly living restrictions. But how to I give up my kids that have been there for me thru everything in order to get the housing I need.

    2. James hopkins says:

      Hello I’m James from fortwayne in .I’m looking to try to move i senior citizen house .if u can send me some info on the senior house.I be 55 I’m march 29 of this year.

    3. Dianne Carney says:

      Hi Mr. Edelen,
      I’m a senior and have a history of falling and recently and has left me very paranoid. I currently live alone and am thinking about assisted living w/other sensitive health issues. Section 8 rental assistances and a small pet that I think would grieve herself to death w/out me and same for me. Had her since she was 8 weeks old she is now 4. Are there any assisted living communities in Houston Co Al, Geneva Co Al that will accommondate me w/my pet as she is a therapy pet and how are the facilities paid for besides private. I have medicare and Al medicaid. I have Bipolar /w paranoid effects. Seems life gets more complicated as age keeps coming. Have family in Houston Co and want to move back there to be with them and my doctors of 10 years. Thank you and have a great day!

    4. I am trying to find senior housing,apt,et.
      ,just cannot live alone again but no major
      Physical ridge,ga.
      I’m on budget also

    5. Dianne young says:

      Mark I am a single woman of sixty and I need affordable housing in the Nashville TN area I have a cat who is my emotional support animal cause I have severe PTSD and bipolar can u help please I have mental problems as well thanks

      • Hi Dianne, thanks for reaching out. I have pulled up search results for after 55 communities in the Nashville area ( Please feel free to filter the search results based on your needs. Best of luck with your housing search!

    6. Beth Mills says:

      I live in chambersburg PA I need to find a place with low income. I have 4 cats I need them around me… I am disabled

      • Hello Beth, I have pulled a search result for the Chambersburg area ( Please feel free to filter the results based on your needs. Best of luck with your housing search!

    7. Attention: do not pay a big pet deposit at all. No pet deposit or pet rent if you can get your doctor to write you a note that your pet is your companion . I have never paid a pet deposit nor the monthly pet rent. Doesn’t matter if you are a senior anyone doesn’t have to pay a pet deposit or pet rent if you have a pet that is your friend and keeps you company and makes you feel better just having a pet. Ask the apt manager before you move in.

    8. Cameron Sciotti says:

      Hi Mark, I’m looking for over-55 retirement living east of the Pittsburgh, PA area. I would consider myself not low-income. I have no pets and want a no-pet facility, really meaning no dogs. I have lived in no-pet apartments and it was heavenly. All potential problems with dogs are eliminated from the get-go.

      • Hello, Cameron.

        While many senior communities are pet-friendly, not all are, and some might allow cats only. The good news is that you can now easily find pet-friendly, or in your case, pet-free senior communities on In the Pittsburgh area, just look at As you scroll down that page, you’ll see properties marked “pet friendly.” You might want to start by checking details on those properties that don’t have the pet-friendly label.

        – Mark,

    9. Hello,

      I am looking for an assisted living program in Los Angeles County that is pet-friendly and someone with fixed income/medical recipient can qualify for.

    10. My mother in law is 83 years old needing a assistant living here in Florida but looking to be closer to her family here near the villages but she has a small dog that they can’t live without each other… Can you help and thank you so much for taking the time to do what your doing , your are an awesome person, thank you so much…

    11. Joy Scaggs says:

      My husband and I are looking for a senior community or apartment that is pet friendly in our area. We are on a fixed income so a place that bases rent on a percentage of our income would be nice. We live in Lorain , Ohio and would like to stay in the area near our doctors.

    12. Mary Jacksonl says:

      I need a apartment i have a pet we need a place to live fast can you help.

    13. Hi all i am looking for pet friendly senior living in Gloucester county nj for my 63 year old brother i want him close to me I m in gibbstown nj and his doctors are spread out in atlantic and gloucester counties he has patkinsons disease and i truely need help to find him a safe comfortable pet friendly place near me thank you in advance have blessed day!

    14. Doris Kasold says:

      Every senior care living facility should have ample space to spend time with pets. You have shared the list of amazing benefits which itself guarantees, pet therapy is effective when it comes to senior care. Thanks for sharing.

    15. I’m looking for a senior apartment in pa I also have a small dog and I cannot afford the prices plus my husband pass away 8 years ago

    16. HI . My in-laws lives in Massachussets, by them self but they old and sick we needs to move them to Orlando Florida. How can we find a place for them.

    17. Tess Williams says:

      I live in Indianapolis, IN and am fostering a very sweet cat who would be a wonderful asset to a senior community as an emotional support animal… He loves everyone ( even small children who have pulled his tail & ears. Lol) and just wants to sleep, eat, and get/give affection.
      How would I find an assisted living or senior housing option in Tge Indy area that is let friendly and might be willing and able to provide a home for this sweet little fellow . Also, he’s neutered & up-to-date on his shots.

      • Hi, Tess.

        That’s a good question. I can’t speak to specifics, but you might want to contact your local SPCA or Humane Society. They might already have a relationship with pet-friendly senior-living communities in the Indianapolis area and could refer you.

        – Mark,

    18. You asked about suggesting other breeds, you have forgotten the best breed for seniors! In every pound and shelter are senior dogs dieing alone because everyone wants puppies.
      OPT2ADOPT one of these small versions of you.

    19. Jean Corbin says:

      I’m looking for apartment in st.pete FL. I lost house in Naples FL hurricane Irma last week.i am disabled .low income I also pet 12 year old Metese 5lbs

    20. Melanie Gerard says:

      Hi there!
      Great information and thanks for the link to the study too! I’m a veterinarian in the Seattle area. I’m starting a mobile practice and would like to include seniors and provide veterinary care on site. Any resources or advice you have would be great! Thank you!!

    21. I am looking for an active seni r home for my Mom, 88. She has a 11 year old dog. Around 45 lbs and sweet. Is there anything in the Arcadia/Pasadena, CA area? Thank you

    22. Nancy Smith says:

      I need a place to live in Versailles for low-income seniors I need a one bedroom apartment for me and my dog In Versailles Kentucky.

    23. Trudie Baggett says:

      I am in need of low income senior housing that is pet friendly in Garland Tx, Richardson Tx. I have to move in 4 months. Please help

    24. My sister and I am looking for senior living but have 2 rescue cats we just can’t part with. We are also on a very limited budget. Is there any places in Columbus Ohio that would meet our needs? We are self sufficient so don’t need any type of full care..Thanks

    25. Karen Vega says:

      Hello, I’m 59 years young widow with a small dog & cat. I cannot find anything affordable for a 1 bdrm lower unit with a large patio! I Prefer W/D in unit & located in a nice, quiet area; not next to parking lot. I appreciate any help you can provide. I’m searching in the Bay Area & Vacaville.

    26. John Rodrigues says:

      Can’t find something affordable

    27. Alfred McCloud says:

      I need availability of pet friendly apts.

      • Hello, Alfred.

        Lots of senior apartments are pet-friendly. On, you will find the Pet Policy detailed on the information page for each apartment community. For example, see also will be adding a filter to show only pet-friendly communities, so that will help your search as well. Look for that new feature soon.

        – Mark,

        • Is the number of cats negotiable, certainly with deposits? Open to most locations so I can take my cats!

          • That is what is holding us back from a retirement village. We have 4 rescues, we are responsible pet owners, and can’t imagine ever abandoning them.

    28. Thomas Condon says:

      It is absolutely critical that seniors who can be isolated by so many factors, be able to share our lives with our own furry (or feathered or scaled) bundle of joy. Property owners and managers have the right to keep their places free of the odors that can accumulate when many pets are kept in homes that are too small to accommodate. This, however, needs to be balanced with a touch of humanity in allowing people a higher quality of life by living with another warm heart.

      • Marlyss Burch says:

        Yes, my husband and I are presently searching out senior housing options. And a big consideration of ours is the ability to have our small dog, a Westie, live with us. We know we shall find the best and right fit sooner or later. SHE needs us and we really need her.

      • My landlord recently gave me a new lease to sign 2 weeks before January 1st increasing my rent and adding a rider to the lease stating that NO PETS ALLOWED! She took over for her husband who passed away 2 years ago. I have lived here for 12 years. There was no pet policy when I moved here in 2004. My pets have lived with me since 2008. One was a lost cat that I took in from a neighbor. The other cat is my daughter’s that she left with me when she moved out in 2007. So now am I supposed to get rid of them? They are like a family member to me. I call them my grandkids, since I don’t have any yet. What can I do?

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