Senior pets end up in shelters for a variety of reasons. They might be the long-time pet of an elderly person who has died or moved into assisted living; they might have been surrendered by a loving family that fell on hard economic times; they might be brought to a shelter because their family experienced changes that meant they couldn’t properly take care of their pet; they may even have been rescued from poor living conditions.
These older pets often stay in shelter a long time. According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), senior pets are usually the last to be adopted. People who want to adopt often overlook senior pets in favour of younger, more energetic animals.
Sure, puppies and kittens are cute, but they can also be a lot more work – kind of like kids. When they grow up and mature, they can take care of themselves better and provide calmer companionship.
There are so many advantages to adopting an older cat or dog. In honor of Adopt a Senior Pet month, here are five great reasons to consider a senior pet:
- They’re trained. Older pets are typically house-trained and understand important commands like “sit” and “stay”. You will save yourself the time and money usually needed to train a pet, and you can jump right into enjoying long walks and playing fetch. And did you know, you can teach an old cat or dog new tricks! Older pets often learn tricks more easily because they have longer attention spans than younger ones.
- What you see is what you get. Because the pet is fully grown, you know exactly what size they will be, how thick their coat will be, their personality, and the level of care they need. You can also find out if the pet lived with children or other pets, and how compatible they were. Senior pets often come to you with medical history; if there is a medical condition, you know what it is and how it’s treated, from day one. Most shelters will begin or continue treatment when the pet is adopted.
- They’re less destructive. Puppies can be destructive. Because senior pets have all their adult teeth (or may be missing a couple), they tend not to chew on table legs, shoes, couches, and anything else within their reach. Senior pets are often thought of as “problem pets”, but as outlined above, they usually lose their home for reasons other than their behavior or personality.
- They’re calmer. Older pets have already gone through the phase where they need to run around and burn energy. They are usually much calmer, more relaxed, and have established their personality and character. By asking shelter employees about the pet’s character, you will know if the pet fits into your household and lifestyle. These lower-energy pets are great for senior citizens looking for a companion pet, young families with children, or families who are looking for an older pet without training needs.
- You are a hero. For one reason or another, many senior pets in shelters have been separated from their lifelong companions and way of life, which can be really hard for them. Adopting a senior pet provides them with a loving home to live out their golden years.
If you are thinking of adopting a pet, consider a senior pet. They could be a perfect match for you and your family!