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The Importance of Adopting Senior Pets

By Wendy Rose Gould
November 1, 2018 • 3 min. read
Dog and cat snuggling

We totally get it. Cuddly puppies and tiny, squeaky kittens are absolutely impossible to resist. It’s why adopters specifically seek them in their search, and one of the reasons why they’re often adopted out so quickly from shelters. Young pets are moldable, photogenic, and have many years of life left in them. That said, it’s important to talk about the opposite side of the adoption coin. Senior pets fill shelter kennels across the country, and they desire and fulfill the same sort of love and affection as their younger counterparts.

Why there are so many senior pets without homes

You’d think that many pets would find their forever homes as puppies or kittens and live a nice, long life with their owner. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case.older dog in a field

Older family pets are sometimes surrendered when there’s a major life change in the family, such as a new baby being born, a divorce, the loss of a job or income, or a big move across the country. They also are taken to shelters if their owners have passed away, or if they develop a medical condition that the pet parent cannot afford (sidenote – this is why pet insurance is so helpful when keeping furry friends and families together). Once these older pets find themselves at a shelter, they are often overlooked as adopters fall in love with the younger animals.

“Senior dogs, especially those with medical problems or disabilities, face a much greater chance of euthanasia at shelters than younger dogs because it is difficult to find adopters for them due to their shorter additional life expectancy and unknown veterinary costs,” states the Old Friends Senior Dog Sanctuary website.

Six benefits of adopting a senior pet: the frosted face facts

If you’re on the fence about adopting a senior pet, perhaps these factors could sway you:

  • Though older, many senior pets still have lots of loving years left. Large dogs that are age six and above are considered senior, while cats and smaller dog breeds are considered senior at age seven. Obviously the older the pet is, the more difficult time it will have in getting adopted. However, if you’re not sure about adopting an “elderly” pet in its late years, then maybe one of these “slightly senior” pets could be a wonderful choice for your family.
  • Senior pets aren’t as rambunctious, destructive, or disruptive as puppies or kittens. You can rest more easily knowing your furniture and belongings are less likely to get destroyed.
  • They are also often fully trained, adequately socialized, calm, and eager to give you all their love!
  • Even though they’re past puppyhood, you can still continue to train dogs with new tricks and behaviors if you desire. In fact, many will be eager to mentally and physically engage with their new owners.
  • No surprises here. Mature dogs and cats have already fully developed their personalities and dispositions, so you can feel confident knowing that what you observe at the shelter will be the same as what you see when they arrive at your home.
  • Anyone who adopts from a shelter is a hero in our eyes, but adopting a pet that would otherwise be overlooked takes things to whole new level. And here’s the thing: you’ll probably feel just as amazing as the pet you take home.

Dog hiding under a blanketIf you’re considering adopting a senior pet, check out our partner Pawsitive Alliance and their #WhyNotMePets campaign, or peek and your local shelter, asking about rescuing an older pet. And if you’re not in the position to adopt but still want to help, consider donating funds, goods, or your very valuable time to a senior rescue facility or sanctuary near you.

Have a sweet gray muzzle you want to show off? Share a picture of your senior pet with us on Instagram by tagging #gohealthypaws. And if you aren’t already a pet parent with us, look into getting a free quote to help safeguard not just your special fur friend, but your wallet too.

wendy gould
By Wendy Rose Gould

Wendy Rose Gould is a freelance lifestyle reporter based in Phoenix, Arizona. She has been in journalism for over a decade, and has been freelancing almost that entire time. In addition to lifestyle reporting, she also works with brands to create marketing content for their websites and blogs.

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