4 Reasons Why Adopting a Senior Pet Is a Wonderful Decision
While the Adopt a Senior Pet national holiday officially falls in November, we at Daily Paws feel any time of year is the best time to adopt a mature dog or an older cat. Aside from showing extreme compassion for these pets of a certain age, there are a few key reasons why adopting a senior pet is a wonderful decision.
Jennifer L. Pease is the president and co-founder of Senior Pet and Animal Rescue in Pittsburgh. She says the number one reason to adopt a senior pet is they're incredibly adorable. Well, we don't need any more convincing! However, she gives some more points that will help you feel confident in filling out that adoption application.
1. Senior Pets Know the Basics
When does a pet enter their senior years? It depends a great deal on the breed, their size, and general health. Overall, most dogs begin this phase of life between the ages of 6 and 8, and most cats between the ages of 10 and 12. So they've been around for a while and know some things, such as being house trained and litter box trained, Pease says. Senior dogs are also likely to know basic cues and be leash-trained, and older cats adapt well to their owners' routines.
Adoptable older pets are also great choices for seniors and retirees, as they don't often require as much exercise as scampering puppies and kittens usually do. However, they're still eager for daily playtime and cuddle sessions, making them engaging companions.
2. Their Personalities Are Well-Developed
"The personality of an older dog or cat is already set, so you have more clear indicators about whether they'll be a good fit for your family and lifestyle," Pease says.
Sadly, many senior pets are surrendered because their owners no longer have the ability or the funds to care for them. People who foster senior animals notice how quickly pets spring back to their natural selves in a home environment compared to the many unknowns of a shelter.
No matter what qualities you desire in a pet—whether it's a dog who's a great playmate for children or an affectionate cat—talk to the shelter staff about whether you can foster an older animal for a few weeks. This gives you an opportunity to get to know one another, and helps provide the pet with a loving home with you or another family looking to adopt.
3. Older Pets Still Form Strong Bonds
If a senior pet could make an adoption wish list, simply "a human to love" would be at the top. When nurtured in a safe environment, all animals—including seniors—thrive.
You can bond with your new (old) dog by offering him comfort, teaching him new tricks, and finding activities he enjoys. Building a relationship with your cat requires similar steps—give her playtime, learn to read her body language, and give her toys and cat trees to make her feel at home.
4. You're Rescuing a Vulnerable Pet in Need
"There are many reasons to adopt a senior pet, but owners should always consider the long-term care required for all domestic animals, especially seniors," Pease says. "With the pet overpopulation crisis and current animal medical care staff shortage, coupled with an ongoing pandemic, the need for safe, stable homes continues to rise."
She adds that many shelters and animal rescue organizations find it demanding and almost impossible to adopt out the record number of intakes they have and are responding to. So, by adopting a senior pet, you ensure that a vulnerable animal that may already be more difficult to place finds a permanent, loving family.
RELATED: Senior Dog Belky Was Abandoned On a Highway Unable to Walk. Now She's Adopted and Healthier Than Ever
Some shelters like Pease's focus solely on rescuing and rehoming senior pets. A few around the country include:
- Fancy Cats (Fairfax, Va.)
- Forever Loved Pet Sanctuary (Scottsdale, Ariz.)
- Muttville Senior Dog Rescue (San Francisco)
- Old Dog Haven (Oak Harbor, Wash.)
- Old Friends Senior Dog Sanctuary (Mt. Juliet, Tenn.)
- Senior Dog Sanctuary (Severn, Md.)
- St. Louis Senior Dog Project (St. Louis)
- The Sanctuary for Senior Dogs (Cleveland)
You can also go to the Petfinder site and do a senior search.
Always try to learn the history of a senior pet before committing to adoption so you can work with a veterinarian and maybe even an animal behaviorist. This ensures your new older pet's best health moving forward.
Additional reporting by Karen Asp.