As we age, we may find ourselves experiencing loneliness after our children have gotten older, having their own families and not being able to spend as much time with us.
The idea of getting a pet, then, seems ideal for many reasons.
For example, a pet could be a trusted friend to accompany us in our older years.
However, it is natural to have doubts about taking care of a pet in your retirement years. After all, it may be a hassle to have to care for a pet on top of taking care of our own needs.
In this article, we cover both sides of the coin to help you decide if you want to take the first step.
Why Should You Get a Pet?
Firstly, there are several reasons why a silver should get a pet.
For pet lovers, it’s obvious: Your pet’s constant presence makes you feel assured that you are valued and important.
Then there’s that deep feeling of love that envelopes you when you see your pet, which does wonders to improve your mental state and physical health.
What happens is that the oxytocin hormone gets released in your brain when you’re around your pet, and being with your pet also increases your serotonin levels to help stabilise your mood when you’re feeling down.
Getting a pet also further improves your well-being as it allows you to keep to a routine of caring for them, which can give you something to look forward to every day while also keeping you active.
Apart from keeping your mind and body sharp, taking your pet out for walks may allow you to meet other pet owners — this is crucial in combating loneliness.
For those with limited mobility, don’t worry. You can consider getting a low-maintenance pet such as a hamster or even a bird!
Other Considerations to Make
Before deciding to get a pet, it is best to do the following to ensure you are making an informed choice rather than an impulsive one to help with your loneliness:
For example, you may rarely find yourself at home due to your occupation, which would make it challenging to take care of a pet. After all, you can’t just leave it to your neighbours!
Another example would be if you live in a small apartment, as animals like big dogs may feel restricted.
Once you’re aware of what you can provide and what you can’t for a pet, choosing the right furry (or not-so-furry) friend will be much simpler, and you’ll be all set to build a life together!
Where to Get a Pet
Many silvers will know that there are two ways to get a pet: By adopting from a shelter or buying one from a breeder.
If cost is an issue, do note that it is more costly to buy a pet from a breeder, and you can expect to pay anywhere from $800 to $8,500 for a pet dog.
At the same time, you’ll be able to pick the breed you want, should that be important to you.
On the other hand, adopting a dog or cat from a shelter will cost you a much smaller sum of $200 and you will be able to connect with a special animal who needs a home!
However, this is a choice that is made based on personal preference.
Do your research and chat with your fellow silvers to decide what’s best for you!
Choosing a Pet
At this stage, you may already have a pet in mind such as a dog, a cat, or bird. It may seem like there are many types of pets to choose from.
However, an important factor to think about before deciding on a pet is if you are looking for a low-maintenance pet or a high-maintenance pet!
Some examples of low-maintenance pets include fishes, birds and hamsters, as they can be left on their own for the most part, apart from taking care of their dietary needs.
Cats, while relatively low maintenance, still require constant care as they enjoy being around their owners on their own terms, though some breeds like Siamese cats require a lot of social interaction.
Finally, animals that are regarded as high maintenance are dogs, as they will require a greater amount of attention compared to cats and other low-maintenance pets.
This will also depend on the breed of dog. The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is a type of dog with a calm nature which makes it easier to handle compared to golden retrievers and beagles.
The trick is to understand your own temperament which will help you decide for yourself what you can handle!
Caring for a Pet
Getting a pet is not only about making a commitment to an animal, as it also means being financially responsible to ensure you can provide and care for it for as long as it is alive.
Some pets will cost much less to maintain, such as birds and hamsters. For instance, purchasing food for a hamster could cost you only $100 and last for up to 6 months.
On the other hand, the estimated cost of caring for a dog in the first year will set you back around $2,700 which is dependent on the dog’s breed when factoring in grooming, sterilisation and other medical-related costs.
Other expenses you should be aware of are toys and accessories, which can set you back around $50 to $300 per month.
Finally, should you want to send your pet for training, be prepared to spend up to $800 for a set of 10 weekly sessions for basic obedience (dogs)!
When you have a pet, it’s inevitable to think about whether they may outlive you, or you, them.
While animals like birds, cats and dogs are able to live for up to 18 to 20 years, hamsters have a shorter lifespan of about 2 to 3 years and fish are dependent on breed.
If the grief you might experience from losing a pet is something you are concerned about, you can speak to a counsellor such as at the Singapore Counselling Centre to learn how to navigate the emotional ups and downs of losing a pet.
After all, with love comes pain, and if this is stopping you from getting a pet, it might be worth exploring those feelings in a safe space before deciding to commit to this lifelong decision.
Now that you’re familiar with what it means to get a pet, are you up for the challenge?
For Ho Sum Kwong, Managing Director of Pets Media and Marketing (PMAM), it’s all about companionship, which makes the practical (and emotional) responsibilities of getting a pet well worth it.
“I have a 14-year-old Jack Russell called UNO. He sleeps with me, is my shadow and I’m all the world to him,”