The Chihuahua, that feisty little dog with a courageous personality, makes a wonderful pet for the elderly. Because of their size, they fit well in either a big home or a small apartment. These little dogs are loyal to their human companion and do much better with a couple or single elderly person than in a family with small children.
In terms of exercise, although Chihuahuas love to go on walks, long walks are not necessary and a Chihuahua can get enough exercise playing with their toys and frolicking around the house. For the elderly who have a hard time walking, or are housebound, the Chihuahua becomes an ideal pet.
Chihuahuas need minimal grooming. Smooth haired Chihuahua's need only a brushing once a week and bathing approximately once a month.
Cost of Food
Many elderly are on fixed incomes so they do require a small dog that does not cost a lot to feed. Chihuahuas needs only three small meals of dog food a day. It can be canned or dry food. However, it should be a mixture of both since Chihuahuas can get bouts of diarrhea from a constant diet of wet food.
Research on Pets and the Elderly
Much research has been conducted on animals and the elderly. Pets enhance the wellbeing of seniors. A loyal animal companion enriches the life of the elderly, providing loyalty, love, companionship. There is some research to indicate that having an animal, such as a Chihuahua can not only alleviate loneliness but may prolong life in the elderly as well.
Top 10 choices for a suitable dog for the Elderly
The canines that made the top 10 list were: Schnauzer, Pug, Shih Tzu, Cocker Spaniel, Yorkshire Terrier, Scottish Terrier, Boston Terrier, Pomeranian, Toy Poodle and Chihuahua. The choices were based on size, temperament, and the need for minimal maintenance.
Smaller dogs are easier to handle and Chihuahuas can be picked up or rested on a senior's lap.
The Chihuahua's loud bark was considered an important factor in the top ten selections for seniors. These dogs act as an extra set of ears for a senior who cannot hear a knock on the door, or a doorbell ring. The Chihuahua's fierce loyalty and protectiveness of their master make them excellent watchdogs.
Animal Assistant Therapy Programs In Nursing Homes
With the prevailing research on animal companionship and the elderly, many nursing homes are now implementing animal assisted therapy programs. Volunteers bring their pets to visit with the elderly. Chihuahuas make excellent animal companions.
Sue Clark has a pet ministry where her little Chihuahua Petita, visit hospitals, nursing homes, memory and elder care units, and rehabilitation centers in the Wisconsin and southern Minnesota area.
The elderly in these facilities can pet them, hold them or play with them if they are physically able. These little dogs bring much joy to the sick and provide a change of pace from the normal nursing home routine. The elderly look forward to the visits and seem generally more joyful and motivated towards life in general.