Choosing the Perfect Pet for Parkinson's

Choosing a pet that is right for you is a very personal question. People enjoy pets for comfort and companionship. If you add having a chronic condition like Parkinson’s disease (PD), then it makes you think twice about what kind of creature is best for you.

Having a pet helps find purpose to your days and add quality to your overall health. You can choose from a variety of species to enhance your life.

Furry critters

Cats and dogs are usually in this category. There is a vast difference in reasons to choose a furry pet. Dogs can get you out of the house. They provide a great way to socialize with others on a daily basis, as you take them out to do their business.

Service dogs also can help you in many ways to assist you. The bigger dogs can help with stability to your balance or they can also help if you fall and need assistance to get help by alerting others.1

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Smaller dogs are simple and can snuggle you on the couch. Either size offers joy and laughter that will help you lift your spirits when you might be having a bad day with PD.

Cats require less attention as they don't need the same level of care as dogs. If you are less mobile with Parkinson’s, they may be a better choice. Cats provide hours of entertainment as they love to play and are ever curious.

Feathered friends

Birds are a category that you might not think of. Similar to cats, they do not require much care but they will provide endless entertainment as they are very social and love to talk and chirp.

I had cockatiels – gray and white birds with the orange cheeks. They are smart as dogs so you can have a great conversation and sometimes birds will respond to you in words too, if you teach them. They are relatively easy to take care of as they just need food and their cage cleaned once and awhile.

You can choose from parakeets, on the smaller side, or a little bit bigger with varieties like cockatiels. You do have to be aware that birds can live a long life so this is good to know before you make that commitment.

An alternative is to get bird feeders for outside. This way you can enjoy the relaxation of nature and take your mind off of your own troubles.


Most people wouldn’t think that fish can add much to your everyday lives. Even though you cannot stroke them like a furry creature, they do provide great benefits to our mental health. They have done studies to show that watching fish in a tank brings calming effects to our brains and helps lower our blood pressure. What a great way to de-stress and enjoy some of nature indoors.2

We have enjoyed all pets

My own experience with pets has included all of the above. We started with fish when our children were little. We moved onto birds. We had cockatiels that eventually laid eggs that hatched into 3 babies. It was fun for our family to see them develop and grow.

Finally, we have had 2 dogs over the last several years. We have enjoyed all of these pets but the most memorable has been our dog Teddie, that my father (with PD) enjoyed stroking and cuddling. I wish you the best in choosing a critter that would help bring joy to your daily life.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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