Tips for choosing a retirement-friendly pet

What makes a pet retirement friendly? The answer is personal and depends on your health, wealth and living arrangements.

For some people retiring without a large nest egg, financial security is a big issue. In those cases, choosing a huge dog that will require a massive budget for food and veterinary care (and maybe boarding kennel costs if you intend to travel anywhere that doesn’t allow pets) is not a smart choice.

But if you’re planning to live in a retirement village, not all pets can be accommodated, depending on the village.

And if your retirement plans include lots of travel, that might be okay if you’ve got a caravan to tour Australia in (as long as you choose pet-friendly caravan parks), but if lots of overseas jaunts are on your agenda, rethinking your pet plans is a sensible option.

Some pets, though, are pretty much welcome anywhere, can be looked after easily by friends and family in your absence, and are also very affordable to maintain. So, thinking carefully about your lifestyle and your budget is the best way to plan your perfect retirement-friendly pet.

To think about which pet might be most suitable for your retirement, looking into some possible retirement-friendly pet choices is a great place to start.


These furry friends can offer great companionship. And, being motivated to get out of the house and walk each day is definitely good for your health.

But be sure to be realistic about the best possible breed, based on your available space, your budget, your available time and your budget.

Yes, golden retrievers are adorable but you might be more of a chihuahua owner …


If you are looking for a pet that looks after itself most of the time, cats are good. They’re independent and don’t need walking but they usually also like cosy laps so can be good for cuddles too.

Depending on where you live, some councils have strict curfews – and for good reason. When cats roam, they can kill lots of native wildlife, so they are best suited to responsible owners who keep them safely inside at night.

 Small enclosed animals

Rabbits, guinea pigs and birds all fall into this category but, just because they are small, doesn’t mean they are always easy to look after. Keeping guinea pigs and rabbits outside, for example, requires special care and protection against predators, cold and heat. And if you like the reward of regular pats and cuddles, these may not deliver.


Fish are a popular choice for people in retirement but be warned that some do need care that can be quite costly, with lights, heaters and various products (pumps, filters, etc) needed to keep the environment clean and healthy. Watching fish swim around a tank can be very calming though – PLUS finding someone to pop into your place every few days to feed them is not too demanding, even for that neighbour you hardly know.

Is your pet retirement friendly? What do you love about having a pet? What do you look forward to doing with your pet each day, now that you have more free time? Share your stories in the comments below.

Read more: How can you look after your pet in a will?

Claire Halliday
Claire Halliday
Claire is an accomplished journalist who has written for leading magazines and newspapers, such as The Sunday Age and Sydney Morning Herald, Australian Women's Weekly, Marie Claire, Rolling Stone, Australian House & Garden, GQ, The Australian, Herald Sun, The Weekly Review, and The Independent on Sunday (UK).
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