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Senior Housing Help

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. You may even find a community that offers pet care and grooming among its extra services.

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.

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.

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


-Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

-Boston Terrier

-Miniature Schnauzer




-Yorkshire Terrier


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.

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 on individual situations.)

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  • Mary Beth Adomaitis

    About Mary Beth Adomaitis:

    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. 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

    2. 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.

    3. John Rodrigues says:

      Can’t find something affordable

    4. 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.

    5. 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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