How to Determine if a Service Dog or Other Pet Is Right for a Senior

How to Determine if a Service Dog or Other Pet Is Right for a Senior

Pets are wonderful companions that can help keep loneliness at bay by keeping seniors busy and feeling useful. Taking care of a dog or cat can be highly therapeutic, and the regular routine of pet care can be good for seniors physically as well.

Studies have shown that interaction with a pet can decrease inner stress and anxieties and increase senior activity levels if the work of keeping a pet does not overtax the senior. Learn how to determine if a service dog or other pet is right a senior citizen.

What Is the Difference Between a Service Dog & an Ordinary Pet?

A service animal is one that undergoes special training in order to recognize certain scenarios that could put a senior in danger. These dogs and other animals can be trained to smell changes in breath odor in a diabetic owner and to alert someone if something is amiss.

Service pets can be trained to fetch things for their owner, can guide someone with poor vision when walking, and do other phenomenal feats depending on each animal’s specific training and intelligence level.

Some dogs that are labeled service dogs are really just well-behaved and trained animals that are gentle around people and enjoy interacting with them. Some of these service dogs are classified as emotional support dogs or pets.

Are Service Animals Allowed Inside of Public Buildings?

Most states do have service animal regulations that must be followed in order to ensure everyone’s health and safety. These rules and regulations differ widely in different areas, so always contact your local service animal governing agency or ask a vet for information. If the service animal meets the criteria, the owner may bring the animal inside certain establishments.

Caution: Never Try to Use a “Fake” Service Dog Just to Gain Pet Entry

If your ordinary dog or service animal is well-behaved and generally listens and is low key, most places that let service dogs enter may let yours too. However, if a pet owner is found faking or lying about their pet’s credentials, they could be fined a steep amount as a consequence.


Seniors may benefit greatly by getting a service dog or other pet. Many adopt older dogs from rescue shelters. Learn more by contacting St. Bernadine Hospice Care.