Retirement Homes and Pets


Moving into a retirement home is a very big decision, especially if you have a pet. Most of us want to bring our beloved companions with us when we move.

How do you choose the perfect retirement home not only for yourself, but also for your pets?  Well, we decided to do some research. We don't know about the perfect retirement home for you, but we can help by giving you information about the pet policies of several different retirement communities.

RDOC recently sent out a questionnaire (section 1)
to the retirement homes in the Ottawa-Carleton Region to learn about their pet policies. During our research we found that quite a few retirement residences welcome pets. ** According to Victoria Newark at Queenswood Villa & Ogilvie Villa (section 9):  "We understand that pets are a part of your family and you want them to come with you. We also have 2 resident birds at Queenswood Villa. They don’t have official names, but I like to call them Bert and Ernie."  According to Jenna Lacharity from Alta Vista Retirement Community (section 5) "Revera also celebrates National Dog Day across all of our retirement communities."

Homes like Redwoods Retirement Residence even have a pet care package that includes feeding, walking etc. for an extra fee. To the question"What happens if the pet becomes too much for the owner?" April Johnstone at
Redwoods Retirement Residence (section 11) said: "They can buy a care plan and we will help care for the pet. Many residents have an external dog walker to help with the proper ownership." Juanita Cody from City View Retirement Community (section 3) wrote: "We have a pet agreement which outlines our pet policy; owners need to be able to properly care for the pet at all times. If the owner is unable to care for the pet, other arrangements would have to be made for the pet." To the question "Would staff be able to feed etc. (and, in the case of a dog, walk) the pet?" Jackie Jarbeau at The Court at Barrhaven (section 15) said "Yes - depending on the circumstance."

Some staff bring their pets to work. Lynn Gratton at
Les Jardins Camilla Gardens Retirement Residence (section 10) wrote: "Actually my 8 yr. old dog Zoe, a Bernese/German Shepherd mix, comes to work with me every day. She is well loved and fervently returns it! LOL! When she stays home on occasion, I’m asked what I’ve done to her!! Camilla Gardens is also visited by ‘Brightening Lives’, a program offered by the Ottawa Humane Society, where volunteers visit monthly accompanied by their pets to interact with the seniors. I see first-hand how pets make a positive difference in a senior’s life, especially when afflicted by dementia, depression, end of life or just everyday boredom."  

Some, like Carlingwood Retirement Community (section 2), have weight restrictions (approximately 30 lbs. or under). City View Retirement Community (section 3) prefers dogs under 15 lbs., while Alta Vista Retirement Community has no weight restriction. According to Jenna Lacharity from Alta Vista Retirement Community (section 5): ".... the restrictions on all the questions involving pets are whether the resident or the family is able to help care for the pets ...." Paula Patterson from The Ravines Seniors' Suites & Retirement Residence (section 4) wrote: "Small dogs preferably, but we do have two large dogs, one is a service dog." Margaret Dennis from Chartwell Kanata Retirement Residence (section 8) answered: "Pets need to be smaller, as they are required to stay in the resident’s room. The resident is 100% responsible for their care, including taking them for walks, if needed. Pets are not allowed in the public spaces within the residence."

Many retirement homes allow different types of pets. Alaina Rossiter, Marketing Manager at Carlingwood Retirement Community (section 2) said: "We allow various types of animals, i.e. dog, cat, bird, fish etc."  Each retirement home allows a different number of pets. Lisa Leonard from Amica at Bearbrook (section 6) wrote: "Maximum two cats or two dogs, one large fish tank and one large birdcage." On the other hand, some retirement homes don't allow dogs, but cats, birds and fish are fine. According to Andre Charlebois from Billingswood Manor Seniors' Residence (section 7): "If the client can take care of their pet, they may bring them in. We do not accept dogs as barking can be disruptive in a retirement home. The owners are responsible for keeping the habitat/litter clean, and the room must be free of smell." Mara Eby from Park Place (section 14) wrote: "We don’t have a restriction on the breed, size or weight as long as they are on leash and under control when travelling through the building."

I would like to end this article by quoting Christina O'Neil from Unitarian House of Ottawa (section 13): "Each situation is unique. We even gave meds to a pet of one of our residents. Each morning the nurses would bring the resident her meds and also the cat’s. The resident did not have transportation so I took the cat to the vet when he needed to be seen. Pets are viewed as part of the extended family. We even mention the pets when we do our celebration of life service. My dogs come to work with me every day and when my older dog died, the residents were just as upset as I was. My dog has a plaque in the memorial garden, with the residents who have passed away."


**  More in-depth information is available by following the section references in this article, see the links below :

Sections 1-5           Sections 6-10            Sections 11-15


RDOC would like to thank the retirement homes featured in this article for answering our questionnaire and giving our organization permission to include this information in our newsletter and on our website. We would ask our readers to contact the retirement homes directly if you are interested in discussing your own circumstances, rather than relying on the information in the article. 

RDOC has done its best to reproduce the information from the retirement homes accurately. However, the organization is not liable for any errors that may be in the article.


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