Pets in retirement


There are lots of health benefits to having a pet in retirement. Looking after a dog can improve your fitness levels dramatically if you’re taking it for a walk every day, cats are great company and even goldfish have been shown to provide many therapeutic and health benefits. But what do you need to think about when it comes to your non-human loved ones?     


Should I think about getting a pet in retirement?

It can be very rewarding having ‘someone else’ in your life. But there are important factors to consider before heading to the nearest animal shelter:

  • Many pets can live for 15 years or more. Where will you keep the animal over the coming years if you have to move home?
  • Even smaller breeds of dog need walks. Larger breeds may be more challenging to handle as you get older. Will you feel able to do this?
  • Will you be able to afford the vet bills and pet insurance if your income reduces over time? Have you factored these additional costs into your monthly budget?

If you still think pet ownership is for you, think about visiting a local animal shelter to ask for their advice on what’s practical, and possible. Do lots of research about your chosen pet before you make any big decisions though, as pets are ‘for life’.

How much do pets cost?

Pets vary greatly in cost, from the initial expenditure of buying one to their ongoing costs. Some pedigree dogs or exotic animals can, for instance, cost thousands of pounds to purchase, and you need to factor in their food bills, veterinary bills, housing, toys etc.

I have a pet now, what should I think about?

If you already own an animal that you’re struggling to look after properly, ask the RSPCA for advice. The RSPCA would much rather give you free advice, and perhaps even offer to help look after your loved pet, than see an animal suffer through any kind of unintentional neglect.

What about if anything happens to me?

Pets are often overlooked when someone becomes unexpectedly ill, injured or even dies. Sometimes they are discovered days later, so it’s important if you do have a pet, or decide to get one, that you make adequate provisions for them to be cared for. Find some friends or relatives who will agree to become temporary providers for your pet and provide them with keys, care instructions and suitable vet contact details. For a more permanent arrangement, you will need to make more formal arrangements for your pet to be cared for. This means making provisions in your will, or other documentation, to outline your wishes and make suitable financial provision for their long term care.