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When it comes time to relocate to a retirement community many seniors want to bring along a member of their family, which is their pets. Whether you have a dog or cat, or something smaller like fish or amphibians, there are pet friendly retirement communities that will work with you.

Just because you are moving to a new elderly care facility does not always mean you need to leave pets behind. In fact, many retirement homes are pet-friendly which makes them perfect for your situation.

What should you expect from a pet friendly retirement community? What are the guidelines and are there dog breed restrictions in retirement communities that allow pets? How about amenities for your pets, like a dog park or grooming services?

We have the answers to the most pressing questions you have about taking your pets with you to a senior living community.

Pet Friendly Retirement Communities

In the past it was very difficult to find any type of senior housing that would allow pets, even very small ones.

Fortunately, things have changed in that regard. Senior living facilities have started to realize that pets are like extended family to many people, including the elderly, and neglecting to make that service available is uncaring and unjust.

As a result, more pet-friendly senior living complexes are popping up throughout the United States.

What can you expect when moving with your cat or dog into a pet friendly retirement community?

Dog-friendly and cat-friendly retirement homes usually have several guidelines and certain breed or size restrictions that apply, yet many senior living communities will try to make every accommodation possible to allow you to bring a pet along with you.

Additionally, some seniors have found that when they transition into retirement community, they would like to add a small pet to their living circumstance. If the elderly care facility supports it, adding a pet to a senior’s home can provide a sense of companionship and improve well-being of senior residents.

Benefits of Having a Pet at a 55+ Community

In fact, did you know there are several studies that support having a pet leads to a happier and healthier lifestyle? Consequently, many retirement communities have attempted to adapt by making them as pet-friendly as possible.

Some of the benefits that are known to help seniors cope with a new living situation in a retirement community with a pet include:

● Pets in retirement communities help seniors to reduce stress associated with moving into a retirement home

● Cat owners and dog owners who reside in retirement communities are less susceptible to depression than seniors who do not own pets

● Improving self-esteem

● Senior pet owners in retirement communities enjoy many health benefits from pet ownership, including lower blood pressure than seniors without pets

● Lowering cholesterol and triglycerides

● Mental benefits from owning a pet are numerous and include better mood and lower chances of developing depression.

● Seniors who own pets in 55 plus communities report that they are less likely to experience feeling of loneliness

● Retirees with pets in 55+ communities get more mind stimulation during the day in comparison to people who do not own pets. The responsibility that comes with owning a dog or a cat can be beneficial in many ways for seniors. Dogs and cats give senior owners reasons to get up every day, take the dog for a walk, feed that cat and enjoy the unconditional love that their pets offer every single day.

Recent studies indicate that those with memory impairment are actually seeing improved happiness and cognitive abilities when interacting with pets. Even if some seniors cannot personally own a dog or cat, some nursing homes may bring in adopted pets once or twice a week to invite personal interaction.

Types of Pet Friendly Senior Living Communities

Many retirement communities across the United States allow pets because most of their residents do not require 24 hour supervision from staff, and are able to live primarily on their own. Therefore, they make great candidates to also care for and interact with animals. Pet friendly assisted living communities, for example, are becoming more and more popular because there are so many seniors who own pets and they are only willing to consider senior living facilities that would allow them to move in with their companion pet.

On the other hand, while people with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia may benefit from interacting with animals, they are simply unable to house them on their own. The same goes for nursing homes which are generally strict about bringing in pets.

Therefore, expect to find that most Alzheimer’s homes and nursing homes will not allow pets of any kind. Meanwhile, some assisted living centers may allow certain pets. Retirement homes are most likely to endorse and welcome pets since many seniors who live in a retirement community are active and able to care for a pet on their own.

Retirement Communities with Pets: Rules & Restrictions

If you have a pet that you would like to bring with you to a retirement community, it is a good idea to inquire with the facility immediately about their rules and restrictions in regards to having animals inside the residences.

Some senior living facilities will say absolutely no and will not allow any exceptions. Others of which may only be cat-friendly facilities and not dog-friendly retirement homes. Yet even others will allow pets with certain breed or size restrictions.

Therefore, finding out which retirement communities accept pets is a reasonable step to finding the right senior living community where you and your dog or cat can continue to enjoy life together. Give us a call for a list of pet friendly retirement communities in your area. This service is free of charge.

If the 55+ community is pet-friendly the next step is to find out exactly what types of animals they allow, how many, if any breed or size restrictions apply, and what other rules you need to know beforehand.

It will save hassle later on down the road, including the unfortunate circumstances where you find out the animal is not allowed, or must get removed from the facility because it does not qualify.

Some things to consider when looking for a pet-friendly retirement community:

● Cats are usually allowed more frequently by retirement communities than dogs. Senior living facilities consider them quieter and less demanding in terms of maintenance. Don't worry, we can help you find a dog-friendly senior living community.

● The smaller the dog breed the easier your search for a pet friendly retirement home will be. Since retirement communities attempt to limit noise or potential hazards, they usually only accept smaller breeds. For example, Shih Tzu, Pugs, Boston Terriers, Miniature Schnauzers, Poodles, Malteses and Bogonese are all considered ideal breeds for senior living centers. Some retirement communities are more flexible than others when it comes to the size of your dog.

● Make sure the pet interacts well around other humans. Some seniors and their pets are used to isolated, quiet living standards. Though senior communities do their best to foster the same living environment, they are clearly going to get more crowded and noisier. If the pet does not interact well with other humans, particularly strangers, it may not be the right fit for a retirement complex.

● Exotic pets will have different rules and regulations. Depending on the potential for danger, many or most exotic pets may not be allowed in individual rooms. You will need to inquire within.

Pet Friendly Retirement Community: Amenities

Once you establish whether the senior living facility is pet-friendly or not, it is time to decide which one will support your pet(s) the best.

Dog-friendly retirement complexes usually offer some type of outdoor escape where seniors can take their dogs for a walk and socialization with other dogs. Usually the best amenities is a fenced in dog park that will allow seniors to walk with a dog, or let them off a leash to play.

The dog park, or a separate open space area should also allow for dogs to use the restroom as well as provide the materials needed to clean up after your pet.

The one thing that usually discourages facilities from making them pet-friendly (aside from barking) is dog owners that fail to clean up after their pet. So please make sure that you ask about their policies, what is the best way to dispose of dog waste, and how else you can comply so you also follow the rules.

Since the size of your new living space is smaller and pets like exercise, any facility that is able to present as many opportunities for on-site or nearby dog exercise is important. It will help keep your pet happy, and less likely to remain a nuisance indoors.

Though you shouldn’t count on it, some of the most luxurious pet-friendly senior homes may even offer a few services for your pet like grooming, dog training, people that will walk your dog, dog-sitters, and other services.

You will need to check with the individual provider for additional details.

Costs of Pet Friendly Retirement Communities

The next question is how much can you expect to pay?

Retirement communities and other types of senior housing are expensive by nature, and usually there is a price to pay for adding pets to a unit.

Each provider will vary and have its own rate for pets. Regardless, expect to have to fork over some extra cash for a pet deposit as well as potentially an additional charge added to each month’s rent.

The facility will like have you sign an additional contract with them that specifies every single rule and regulation regarding pet use within the facility. It will also outline the costs associated with having a dog, cat, or another type of small animal.

The complex has the right to enforce its rules and order that you get rid of the pet or leave altogether if you don’t comply, so it is extremely important that you understand every single detail of the agreement. If any questions arise, ask immediately and before you sign off on any agreement.

The average cost for an independent living community in the United States is between $1,500 and $10,000 per month. Senior apartments are usually slightly cheaper. Assisted living centers average between a little over $2,500 per month.

Expect a pet deposit that will be anywhere from $100 to $500 at the time you agree to join the retirement community, or whenever you add a pet to your household. Cats and dogs usually always require a pet deposit. Meanwhile, tiny pets like fish may not require a single dollar for a pet deposit. It just depends.

In addition to the pet deposit -- which is sometimes fully-refundable, partially refundable, or not refundable at all -- some facilities also raise the rent each month slightly. Usually the cost of having a dog or cat could raise the monthly rent anywhere from $25 to $75 per month.

It is important that you consider these extra costs in addition to expenses you already have for the pet like food, toys, accessories, and veterinarian checkups. The worst mistake you can make is move into a place where it makes having a pet simply unaffordable.

What to Ask Pet-Friendly Senior Living Communities

When a provider checks off all the criteria for allowing your dog, cat, or other animal it is time to meet with the facility in-person.

Before anyone makes a big move it is expected that they get an opportunity to tour the facility is make sure it is exactly what they need and want. During the tour and personal meeting with staff, you should inquire about bringing along your pet (or adding one later on down the road).

It is a prime opportunity to make sure that what staff says aligns with the information they present online. For example, some facilities may claim that they are “pet-friendly” yet it’s all a ploy. They either A) allow very few types or breeds, B) make it so expensive it is impossible to afford it, or C) lack the necessary pet amenities.

The personal tour and interview will be your opportunity to double check this information as well as get a tour of their pet amenities. These are some of the questions you might consider asking:

● What are the rules and regulations for pets inside the building?

● Do the rooms inside a unit support and have the necessary space for your pet?

● How much is the pet deposit and are there additional charges related to having a dog or cat?

● Is there a safe place on premise to take your dog or cat outside? What about near the location of the property?

● Do you keep the dog park or other pet area well-lit and safe at nights?

● What are your rules and procedures for removing pet waste?


The number of senior living communities or other types of retirement homes that allow pets in the United States is rapidly growing. Most retirement communities accept the fact that pets are a big part of a family, and make every effort to help their senior residents to continue enjoying the companionship of their pets even after moving into a 55+ community.

As long as you are not pursuing a nursing home or specialized care facility like an Alzheimer’s care home, there is a good chance that there is a dog-friendly or cat-friendly retirement community within your price range, desired location, and with the necessary amenities for your pet.

If you have additional questions you would like to ask, please give us a call.

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