November is National Adopt a Senior Pet Month.
Since senior pets can be among the most at-risk in shelters, this is a great time to talk about why an older dog or cat just might be a great choice.
Julie Castle, CEO of Best Friends Animal Society suggests, “If you’re able to look past a little gray hair and open your home and your heart, your new old friend will show you why they’re the perfect pet,” Castle said.
Best Friends offers the following reasons a senior dog or cat might be the right fit for you:
- Families often think it’s best to bring a puppy or kitten into the home, so the pet can “grow up with the children.” While this sounds good on paper, this combination often results in a frustrated family. “Puppies and kittens can be kind of wild and have no manners until they’re old enough to be trained. Their sharp teeth and claws often result in fearful children and rough handling, making for a strained relationship,” Castle said. “Many families discover that a better choice is to adopt an older animal with a history of doing really well with children.”
- A benefit for anyone adopting an older dog is that they generally come with good manners, Castle noted. “They’ve spent years living in a home, learning social skills, and usually know some basic obedience commands. This makes the transition into your home much easier.”
- Most adult dogs and cats are already house- or litter-trained. “It may take a few hours or days to adjust to the new home, but it happens much more quickly than
- Senior pets are far less likely to be destructive to the belongings in your home. “Puppies can be naughty and chew up shoes and furniture for years, but older pets are past that phase and just want to hang out with their people and their toys or find a cozy spot in the sun to curl up for a nap,” she said.
- A great benefit to adopting an older pet is that you know exactly what you’re getting. Their size, weight and personality are already developed, so you can choose them for who they are, rather for what you hope they’ll be when they grow up, Castle said. “If you’re looking for a cat that likes dogs, for example, or vice versa, you can talk to an adoption specialist and find a pet with the history you’re looking for.”
- It’s often easy to find older purebred pets looking for new homes through shelters or breed rescue groups.
- Senior pets are generally easier to have around. “Older dogs still enjoy going for walks with their people, but they don’t have as much crazy energy as their younger counterparts. Without all that frustration, drama, and mess, the family dynamic is easier. The pets and people can just enjoy each other’s company,” Castle said.
Give a senior pet a second chance and you’ll share a lifetime of unconditional love. Since many shelters start labeling pets as “seniors” at five years old, that can add up to a lot of happy years together.
Get started by visiting www.bestfriends.org now to find a rescue or shelter near you.