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Tips for Seniors Who Want to Bring a Pet to an Assisted Living Community

Written by James Hall


Pets not only offer valuable companionship, they even promote good health, and being a pet owner can potentially lead to living longer. If you have a furry or feathered friend and are considering moving to an assisted living facility, of course you want your pal to join you. Locating a retirement community that welcomes animals isn't always easy, however. Read on to find out how you can secure a safe and happy home for you and your treasured plus-one below.


Find an accepting community


When researching potential assisted living communities, ask up front whether animals are permitted. Get into details, specifying what type of creature you have. For example, some communities set a weight and size limit when it comes to dogs, or may not allow certain breeds like pit bulls. 


Other points to ask about include how large the individual living spaces are, what types of outdoor recreation areas are available, and whether a pet deposit is required (and if it’s refundable). You also want to scope out accessibility to services like veterinarians, pet sitters, and dog walkers in the area.


Prepare your pet's future home in advance

Moving day is bound to be stressful for you and your animal alike, so preparing a cozy space for them in advance is imperative. Make sure you have all the pet supplies you will need on-site. Put everything from food bowls to pet beds into a single box and make sure that you have immediate access to it upon arrival. Label the box appropriately so the movers know to set it aside. 


If you are making a long-distance move, it may be easier to simply have new pet supplies shipped directly to the location in advance. This means one less box to pack. You can purchase everything you need online and have it shipped directly to your new place. 


If You Feed Raw


A special note for pet owners that might currently feed their dogs a raw diet. There is a good chance this will not be allowed at a senior community. Raw foods contain potentially harmful bacteria, and some of these can transfer from your pet to you or to other residents. Salmonella is one of these. Another, even more concerning, germ, is Clostridioides difficile, more commonly known as C diff. This bacteria causes diarrhea and inflammation of the colon (colitis), which can be fatal for some seniors, particularly those undergoing cancer treatment or that have a weak immune system. Make plans to transition your pet to hard, cooked food, which is regulated by the FDA, and poses no risk to your or your new community mates. 


Pave the way for a smooth transition


Prepare your pet for the actual moving process. If you have a cat, get them accustomed to their carrier. If you are moving a dog and taking a car, get your pup accustomed to driving if they aren’t already. Start by only taking short rides together, always rewarding them with a treat, and gradually build up the distance. By preparing your pet in this manner, you will eliminate one more new and “scary” thing for them on moving day. 


To further alleviate moving jitters, put a shirt that smells like you inside the animal’s cage or crate on moving day and bring a pheromone spray designed to alleviate stress. Finally, if you're moving across state lines, make sure that you have the required health certificates for the new state. Your veterinarian can provide these.


Make pet hygiene a priority after your move


You don’t want to get off on the wrong foot in an assisted living community because of poor pet hygiene. If you have a dog and bring it outside, make sure to pick up after it. If you have a cat, clean the litter box regularly to keep odors at bay. Cats don’t require any washing, but dogs, especially those with longer hair, need to be bathed and groomed regularly to avoid smelly fur. 


Be proactive about keeping away pesky critters like fleas. You don't want to introduce these parasites into your new home! There are preventative medicines you can buy. Just do your research and make sure you are getting a safe solution that won't be a health hazard to you or your dog.


With these points taken care of, you and your pet will be able to easily settle into your new home. You will be thankful that you took the time to find a facility that allows you to bring your beloved pet—and will likely also benefit socially as well! Pets help their humans establish bonds with other people, which will make it easy for you to make friends in your new community.


Photo Credit:  Lori Froderman

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