Older pets are often overlooked by potential adopters and are usually the last to be get new homes. Sadly, for this reason, they are also the first to be scheduled for euthanasia.
So, why should you consider opening your home to a senior pet? Because there are multiple, honest-to-goodness benefits to you and the animal.
Here’s a quick list:
1. Calmer Temperament
Senior pets are well past the puppy and kitten stages, so they are not likely to be overly rambunctious, insanely curious or chewers of anything within reach. There should be less jumping up, scratched legs and kids knocked over.
2. Fewer Training Woes
Older dogs and cats are more likely to have been exposed to some form of training and are usually house-trained (except for puppy mill survivors or older pets with medical conditions). This could mean fewer accidents in the house and a lower possibility of a hyper dog running off.
- Don’t Miss: Training Advice for a Senior Dog
3. Vet Bills Might Be Lower Than You Think
Just because a dog or cat reaches the senior years doesn’t mean that each of those pets will get cancer or tumors, or that expensive medications will be necessary.
Photographer Lori Fusaro adopted a senior dog named Sunny. At 16, Sunny had infected eyes and a tumor on her leg that was cancerous. It was because of Sunny’s health problems that her owners dumped her at the shelter, and that is why Lori couldn’t leave her there. Lori told Today that vet visits helped clear the eye infections, and Sunny was prescribed pain medication for just $60 per month.
Some senior adoptions and fostering agreements cover veterinary expenses, so caring for a senior pet may be cheaper than you think.
4. You CAN Teach an Old Dog New Tricks
The old dog myth is rarely true. Senior dogs usually understand basic commands, which you can expand; and those without training are more likely to focus on you and your requests.
MythBusters tested this theory on dogs to see if it was true. Watch the results in this video:
5. Coach Potato Companions
Many people avoid getting a puppy or kitten because of the time commitment involved; younger pets need more outings and exercise. Senior pets still need exercise, but they won’t drag you out of the house to go jogging. Older cats and dogs are more likely to be relaxed and happy simply napping next to you on the sofa.
If you have an overweight senior cat who needs to exercise, consider reading my previous post on 10 easy ways to exercise a cat for ideas to get your furball moving.
6. Shorter Adjustment Period
Senior pets are more likely to have experienced a home or family setting, and this experience can help them settle into your home environment more quickly. There are exceptions, of course, such as puppy mill survivors or dogs and cats raised in a shelter.
- Don’t Miss: What to Do After Bringing Home an Older Dog
7. Helping Two Animals at Once
Every time you adopt an animal, you open up a space for another animal. The dog kennel or cat tower your senior pet once occupied can be filled by another needy animal. You’re not only giving an older pet another chance for a home; you’re also helping to ease our overcrowded shelters and rescues.
8. Cut the Time Commitment
Cats, dogs and other animals can live up to 20 years or longer depending on the breed, and for some people the time commitment is too long to fit into their lives. People may be anticipating a move to another state or country, entering housing that does not allow pets, or expecting a military deployment or relocation every few years.
Although adoption is still be a major commitment, a senior pet can be a shorter one and allow you to have a companion right now when you are able.
9. Foster Parents Need Apply
If you’re not sure that you can devote a few years to a senior pet, considering fostering one instead. A loving home is a much better place than a kennel for a pet who is waiting to be adopted. If you do plan to make the arrangement short term, inform the shelter or rescue up front.
Fostering is a great opportunity for you to have a pet and help with overpopulation. My own local shelter often accepts puppy mill rescues who need immediate homes. Because of these dogs’ horrific experiences, a cage or kennel is not the ideal placement for them, even temporarily.
10. The Return
Regardless of whether you foster or adopt a senior pet, there is no doubt that the love you will receive in return will make it all worthwhile.
The hard part, of course, is letting go. Everyone deals with this differently, but hopefully you will feel comfort in knowing that you were able to help a pet find a home or make the end of an animal’s life a loving and comfortable experience.