If you are contemplating adopting a dog or cat, consider adding a senior pet to your family. You won’t be sorry.
Overlooked and Underappreciated
Older dogs and cats are the most challenging group for rescues and shelters to place. Unfortunately, it is the plight of senior pets to:
- Spend much longer in animal shelters than their younger counterparts
- Have higher euthanasia rates than younger animals due to a lower number of adoptions
- Often live out their lives in shelters without the love and companionship of a forever family
While these facts make senior adoption more urgent and may touch your altruistic side, they shouldn’t be the only reason for introducing a new “old friend” into your heart and home. There are plenty of practical reasons, as well.
A Whole Lot of Love Left
While most people come to shelters looking for younger dogs and cats, here are five compelling reasons why a senior pet might be just the right fit for you and your family.
- Less work and lower stress. Puppies and kittens, while cute, often require a lot more time and commitment. Adopting an older pet eliminates frustrations such as housebreaking, chewing, and other requirements of dealing with a high-energy adolescent.
- No housebreaking. Although we touched on it above, this point deserves reiteration. Older dogs typically have years of experience living in homes and are already housebroken. Hallelujah!
- What you see is what you get. Adopting a senior pet takes a lot of the guesswork out of the process. The temperament, demeanor, personality, energy, and size of an older dog or cat are already determined. You have a better idea on first meeting your prospective pet whether he or she is a good fit for your family.
- Calmer. Older pets are more settled than younger ones. It takes a lot less energy to care for a mature senior.
- Instant companion. You couldn’t ask for a more loyal and loving confidante.
People who adopt senior pets swear that their old friend is more appreciative because of past experiences.
Common Misconceptions About Older Dogs
A common misconception is that older dogs or cats are up for adoption because they are problem pets. In most cases, nothing could be further from the truth. Most adoptable seniors were once owned and loved by someone, and the reason that they lose their home has nothing to do with behavior. People give up pets for lots of reasons, including allergies, deaths, new babies, loss of employment, moves, and lifestyle changes.
Right for Both New and Old
Senior pets are an excellent choice for first-time pet owners because they eliminate many of the challenges that younger pets pose. Since older pets typically adapt quickly to their new environment, it doesn’t take long for these furry friends to become family.
Not surprisingly, seniors are also great for other seniors. In her blog titled, “Adopt a Senior Pet: Reasons to Own a Senior Dog,” Becky Moultrie points out that senior pets make amazing companions for everyone—especially the elderly. Among the reasons she gives are that “senior dogs love gentle play and long naps, which mesh with an elderly person’s lifestyle,” and that they are “generally mellow and happy to sit on the lap or at the feet of their owners.”
The love and benefits go both ways. Studies have shown that there are plenty of health benefits that older adults get from dog ownership, including increased physical activity, lower blood pressure, reduced stress, decreased heart rate, and even better sleep.
So whether you are young or gracefully aging, a first-time pet owner or an experienced pet parent, senior pets make fantastic companions for everyone.
20 Years and Counting
Sarah Gutter thinks there is an awful lot to be said for a dog with a little bit of experience. She has been adopting and fostering senior greyhounds for more than 20 years, and these fast friends have a special place in her heart. “They are more settled and easy-going and fit better with my lifestyle, especially as I get older,” says Sarah. “That’s a big part of it, but you also know that, considering that it’s harder for them to get adopted, you are doing the right thing.”
If you are considering adding a new four-legged member to your family, check out all the super seniors at your local animal shelter or rescue. Consider opening up your life and heart to a loving senior dog or cat.