Pet Programs for Seniors

Why have Pet Programs for Seniors?

Our pets play an important role in our lives, and often they serve as surrogate family members, faithful companions, and even our protectors. That is no different for seniors. Through the Pet Program for Senior Citizens, seniors living on a fixed income are able to receive assistance to care for their pets.


According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, nearly 46 percent of seniors who are 66 years of age or older, own at least one pet. Pets are an integral component of providing social support for seniors. Research has proven that pets play a vital role in the lives of seniors.  Seniors who own pets often have lower cholesterol, blood pressure, and pulse rates; have 21 percent fewer doctor visits than those who do not own pets; make friends easier; are less likely to face depression; and are more active, according to The Pets For The Elderly Foundation.

How does the program work? 

There are two pet related programs offered through the South Carolina Department on Aging:

  • Paw Pals is a program that offers pet food to qualified seniors at no cost.
  • Through Pet Vets for Seniors, our veterinarians offer limited services to approved senior citizens for a reduced cost.

Senior Citizens receiving services through either program will be assessed by SCDOA or AAA staff to qualify. Other requests for pet services are handled on a case-by-case basis.  All pet services are identified by SCDOA staff and statewide partners.

Here's how you help:

Donations and partnerships

Donations and partnerships are a key component of the Senior Pet Program as it is the program’s only funding source.

Become a Business Partner

Businesses who cater to pets with supplies or services may provide donations to the SCDOA, which in turn, will be given to a senior. Supplies may include, but are not limited to: pet food; crates; pet beds; harnesses or collars; leashes; treats; and pet toys. Services may include, but are not limited to: yearly vaccines; spaying and neutering services; grooming; and emergency pet care.

Become a Business Contributor

Businesses who do not provide pet services are more than welcome to support the Senior Pet Program through contributions.

Support a Senior’s Pet

The supporter will be provided with the name of a pet. When a need arises for that pet, you will be contacted to help support him or her.

Donate in Honor or Memory of a Beloved Pet