Do Assisted Living Facilities Actually Accept Pets?

Certified Senior Advisor (CSA)®
Assistive Technology Professional
Updated:

Most assisted living facilities do not allow pets, but there are still some that do. Since animal companionship has numerous benefits to your loved one, you might want to look into the facilities that allow them. Keep reading to learn more about what to do when assisted living facilities accept pets and its pros and cons.

Assisted Living Facilities Actually Accept Pets
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Seniors who own pets looking to move into assisted living facilities usually have to make a difficult decision regarding what to do with their beloved companion. The decision is never easy since most assisted living facilities typically don’t allow pets. Fortunately, some do.

Pet ownership for seniors looking to move into assisted living has its pros and cons, which may vary depending on the case and situation. Still, it is worth noting that some facilities allow pets upon moving in, even though some don’t.

If you or a loved one must consider pet ownership before moving into an assisted living facility, the following guide will help with decision-making.

assisted living facilities accept pets pros and cons
Keeping a pet in an assisted living facility has its pros and cons.

What Are the Pros and Cons of Having a Pet in an Assisted Living Facility?

Here are the pros of having a pet in an assisted living facility:

Ward Off Depression

Animal companionship has been shown to have a positive impact on seniors that struggle with depression and anxiety. While an animal can never replace professional medical care, pets may reduce the symptoms of depression, such as boredom or loneliness.

Keep Active

If you want to get out of your home but don’t want to leave your pet behind, a pet-friendly assisted living facility can be a great way to enjoy both. Seniors that walk their pets walk more minutes each day, which helps them keep active and manage their weight.

Prevent Heart Disease 

The stress that comes from being separated from your pet is linked to high blood pressure and a higher risk of heart attacks. Pets can be a calming presence, especially in assisted living facilities, since they provide companionship for those in need.

Stay Sharp

Having a pet around can encourage you to interact with others, including family members and friends. Staying social is key to keeping cognitive skills sharp as people age, especially for those living alone or in places where they don’t have much regular contact.

Here are the cons of having a pet in an assisted living facility:

Liability

Seniors with pets at assisted living facilities may face liability risks, especially if their pets react poorly. This may include damages to property inside or outside the facility. While this might not always happen, it is still an important factor to consider.

Inability to Provide Care

Seniors in assisted living facilities may eventually be unable to provide adequate care for their pets as they age and their health and cognitive skills decline.

Seniors that come into facilities require special care and attention and taking care of their pets as they age further may be more of a challenge than a reward for them.

Conflict

Conflicts among seniors and other residents in the assisted living facility are another drawback of having pets there. Remember that not all people love pets. Not everyone appreciates having pets around, especially if they bark, get into personal belongings, etc., which may lead to conflicts in the facility.

What Are the Requirements for an Assisted Living Facility to Accept Pets?

Assisted living facilities usually have certain requirements for them to accept pets, which include:

Extra Deposit

Seniors that bring pets may be required to pay an extra, refundable deposit. 

Non-Exotic Pets

Exotic pets are basically animals that aren’t typically domesticated, such as a python or wolf.

Limited Number

Assisted living facilities usually limit the number of pets that residents are allowed to bring or adopt. One or 2 pets is usually the maximum.

Age and Training Requirements

Pets are usually required to be at least one year old and housebroken.

Vaccinations

Residents must usually provide proof of vaccinations before bringing a pet to live in the assisted living facility.

Noise and Behavior Complaints

Assisted living facilities usually have rules regarding destructive behavior or noise complaints. If a certain number of complaints are received, but the behavior does not improve, the pet may have to leave, or you could face eviction from your assisted living community.

Designated Pet Caretaker

Assisted living facilities sometimes require residents to designate a person living in the area that’s willing to care for the animal if the resident is unable to, such as if he/she is recovering from surgery or experiences a sudden decline in health.

Breed and Temperament

Assisted living facilities usually disallow certain dog breeds, such as pit bulls. This may take the form of specific prohibitions or more general guidelines such as “no ‘attack-type’ breeds.”

The animal must also have a temperament that allows staff to enter the residence.

What Documents Are Required?

Pets living on the assisted living facility premises must have regular examinations and immunizations that are appropriate for the species by a licensed veterinarian, and the documentation of those examinations and immunizations is to be maintained at the facility.

assisted living facilities accept pets not allowed
Pet ownership in assisted living facilities comes with risks and challenges.

Why Do Some Assisted Living Facilities Not Allow Pets?

Pet ownership among seniors might have numerous apparent benefits, but it is worth noting that not all assisted living facilities allow pets of any kind because pet ownership also entails challenges and risks.

One thing to consider is pet health and medical needs. Because many assisted living residents do not bring their cars with them, the transportation of pets can become a problem. You may have to rely on family members when these needs arise.

The risks and challenges, such as allergies, cleanliness, potential pests, and maintaining a safe and healthy environment for all residents, are the main reasons why some assisted living facilities don’t allow pets. This is also an important issue to consider before moving in.

What Kinds of Pets Are Allowed in Assisted Living Facilities?

Assisted living facilities mainly allow cats, small dogs, and caged pets like birds. However, the specific type of pet that seniors are allowed to bring to assisted living facilities will depend on the regulations of the specific facility.

The vast majority of facilities will have varying policies regarding weight limits and breed restrictions. Unfortunately, seniors with medium- and large-breed dogs may have trouble finding a pet-friendly facility, as will those with commonly restricted breeds such as pit bulls. 

Suggested small dog breeds for seniors include:

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

Suggested cat breeds for seniors include:

  • Burmilla Cat
  • Persian Cat
  • Russian Blue Cat
  • Ragdoll Cat
  • Birman Cat

No matter the type of pet the senior chooses, it is important that he/she can maintain and take care of it on his/her own with minimal aid.

Does It Cost Extra?

Yes. You can expect to pay extra to have a pet in assisted living. It will be an extra amount added to your monthly bill for some facilities, and you may also be required to pay a pet deposit. You will also be responsible for any damage caused by your pet while living there.

How Can You Make Sure Your Pet is Properly Cared For?

It becomes more challenging to keep up with a pet as you age, but with the right accommodations, an assisted living facility can be a great place to care for your pet. Here are some ways to ensure that your pet is properly cared for:

Find a Mobile Vet

A trip to the vet is both stressful for pets and inconvenient for pet owners, especially those who can no longer drive. However, a mobile vet takes the hassle out of pet care since they come to you.

Invest in the Right Supplies

Elevated water and food bowls, automated feeders, a no-pull harness, and self-cleaning litter boxes are some helpful tools for making daily pet care a lot easier for seniors.

Pay Extra for Pet Care

Well-exercised pets tend to be happier, healthier, and easier to care for. If you cannot keep up with your pet’s needs, consider enrolling in your facility’s pet care program or hiring an outside dog walker.

Certified Senior Advisor (CSA)®
Assistive Technology Professional

Scott Grant has spent more than 20 years serving seniors and the elderly in the home medical equipment industry. He has worked as a manufacturer's rep for the top medical equipment companies and a custom wheelchair specialist at a durable medical equipment (DME) provider in WV. He is father to 4 beautiful daughters and has three terrific grandkids. When not promoting better living for older adults, he enjoys outdoor activities including hiking and kayaking and early morning runs.

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