Pets Are The Retiring Type

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9th November 2009, 01:01pm - Views: 1341

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9 November 2009

Pets are the retiring type

With Australia’s population aged 65 or over projected to increase to 25% of the overall

population during the next 40 years, guidelines on how to plan for pets in retirement

communities have been welcomed by the Council on the Ageing.

“Ageing should not be about giving up any of the rights or benefits you had at other

stages of your life and with research saying that pets are one of the few interventions

capable of permanently lifting the atmosphere of retirement homes and care facilities,

these guidelines have the potential to help many older people enjoy a more complete

life,” says Ian Yates, Chief Executive, Council on the Ageing. 

The guidelines are the result of work undertaken by veterinarian and animal behaviourist

Dr Gaille Perry and the Halcyon Retirement Community in Queensland.

“After reviewing the current arrangements of retirement communities that allowed pets,

we found that there was a great deal of focus on size and breed, whereas energy levels

and proper management by the owner are more important in integrating pets into a

retirement community,” said Dr Perry.

“Together, we developed guidelines that made it easier for people to bring their pet to

the retirement community.  They are:

Pets must be fully vaccinated against all common animal diseases;

Cats must be kept indoors or be kept in a cat run if their owner wishes to allow

them outside;

Dogs should be assessed by a professional behavioural trainer;

Dogs must always be on a lead when outside the owner’s premises;

Dogs are prohibited from certain areas such as pools; and

Dogs are to be de-sexed. 

“Of course, there may be other considerations that retirement communities wish to

include but these guidelines are a sound starting point that can help bring the benefits of

pet ownership to retirement communities across Australia,” says Dr Perry.

The benefits to residents in having the opportunity to own or spend time with pets are

likely to be significant according to Dr Lisa Wood from the University of Western


“Our research has identified a number of social and mental health benefits associated

with interacting with pets and there are many studies that show specific benefits to older

people from having contact with pets.  

“One of these studies looked at residents in 37 nursing homes and compared the overall

satisfaction with life between groups that had visits from students, visits from pets, or just

visits from their existing contacts.  The groups that were visited by pets had statistically

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significant increases in feeling ‘enthusiastic’, ‘attentive’, ‘interested’, and ’inspired’,” says

Dr Wood.

The St Vincent de Paul Nursing Home in Box Hill agrees that a resident dog is a great

benefit to older people.  Over the last year, residents enjoyed the company of ‘Snowy’ a

retired Greyhound who brought joy to residents, staff and visitors.

“Retired Greyhounds are known for their placid nature and Snowy was always happy to

sit quietly with residents and keep them company,” says Joanne Edwardes, Acting

General Manager of Aged Care, St Vincent de Paul.  

“Owning a pet can increase our levels of activity and happiness and there is evidence

from other research that pet owners make fewer trips to the doctor than non pet owners. 

For older people, sharing life with a pet helps with what can sometimes be a lonely time

in their life,” says Dr Wood.


Issued by the Petcare Information and Advisory Service

Available for interview:

Dr Gaille Perry, 0409 897 155

Dr Lisa Wood, 0438 350 266

Other media enquiries:         

Jill Hollingworth, 0419 508 597 or

Australia – A Nation of Pet Lovers 

Australia is a nation of pet lovers.  It is estimated that 63% of Australian households

have some type of pet with 53% of households owning a dog or a cat.   










































Over many years, Australian and international research has shown that owning pets can

help improve a person’s mental and physical health, reduce the effects of stress, help

children learn about responsibility, facilitate social interaction between people and build

a sense of community. 


The Petcare Information & Advisory Service (PIAS) is funded by Mars Petcare Australia

as part of its commitment to socially responsible pet ownership.  PIAS’ website: provides information on the responsible and enjoyable ownership of

pets.  The site is suitable for children, although PIAS encourages parents to supervise

any online access by their children. 

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