If you are planning to get a new furry friend for yourself or your family soon, take a good look around the shelter (please adopt from a shelter!) when you get there. You will notice young excited puppies, kittens and one to two year old dogs and cats eagerly waiting for a new home. But look past their excitement and you will see dogs and cats over the age of 7 who are also, just as eagerly, looking for a new home. November is Adopt a Senior Pet Month, so please consider giving a home to an older dog or cat if you plan to adopt!
Why Do Senior Pets End Up In Shelters?
Senior pets may end up at a shelter for a variety of reasons. Sometimes it’s because their human passed away or had to go into a nursing home where they could not bring their pet. Sometimes it’s because an owner gets evicted from their home and has to move somewhere pets are not allowed. Some pet owners decide they cannot afford or provide adequate care for their dog or cat anymore. Some pets get lost and never find their way back home or don’t have up to date tracking information. Sometimes a senior animal ends up at a shelter after many years of being on the street (these animals are very lucky because homeless animals do not usually make it to old age!). No matter what the reason, these dogs and cats need love and a warm and caring human!
In case you need a push to get you to consider adopting a senior pet, here are some PAWSOME reasons why senior pets are the best:
Senior dogs and cats are calmer than puppies and kittens! If you adopt a senior dog, they probably want to spend a lot of time sleeping versus a young pup who wants to play all day! Young kittens can make you crazy by climbing your curtains and squeezing into every small space in your house. A senior cat just wants to sleep and receive love. Puppies and kittens are fun and adorable, but they are a lot of work-so take this into consideration when you adopt.
Senior dogs are usually already housebroken and senior cats can use a litter box. No need to clean up puppy messes or even do the housebreaking training with a senior dog! They know how to hold it and they know to use the bathroom when you open the back door or take them on a walk. This is one of the best reasons to adopt a senior pet.
Senior cats are less likely to scratch your furniture and senior dogs are already trained in some behaviors! Kittens can tear your house up, but cats calm down with age and stop scratching everything in sight. Senior dogs usually already know some commands, like sit or stay! You can try a lot of commands to see what a previous owner or shelter staff has taught them. And don’t worry if they don’t know a specific command that you like. Old dogs can definitely learn new tricks! It’s really just up to us and our consistency in training.
Senior pets usually prefer cuddles to playtime. I love cuddling with my seniors: my dogs Annie (10) and Skeeter (11), and my cat Fender (11). They are going to keep me warm this approaching winter! Remember, though, just because your senior pet loves to cuddle, he needs exercise to remain active, healthy and to stay younger longer. Get out of the house with your senior dog to play, and get some string or a laser to get your cat interested in running around-they will thank you when they stay slim and healthy and when their joints don’t ache!
Senior pets need less of our attention all the time. Puppies are very demanding, need to be let outside more frequently, and always want us to play! Seniors are more independent and know what to expect from each day. They can patiently wait at home for us while we work without messing up our house. This is also very helpful for those of us with especially busy schedules and young children who also demand all of our attention.
Senior dogs and cats are already fully grown, so we will not be surprised with a 70lb dog when we were expecting our puppy to be 40lbs! Also, their personalities are well-established, and they know if they can tolerate young children or a different species in the home already. Make sure shelter staff know that you already have a dog or cat in the home when you adopt your senior dog, and you can bring them together to meet and make sure they get along!
I hope you will consider adopting a senior the next time you are in a shelter. Senior dogs and cats will love you just as much as a puppy or kitten, and I think they know to appreciate us even more for saving them. You will not regret adopting a senior pet!