November is National Senior Pet Month, a time to raise awareness of the many senior pets in shelters waiting for their forever homes.
Adopting a senior pet is daunting to many pet owners because of the uncertainty that comes as pets age. But while senior pets may come with their challenges, they also have plenty of love to give – and many more years left to give that love to the right family.
Read on to learn why you should consider adopting a senior pet this November, and what you should know before you do.
5 Reasons to Adopt a Senior Pet
On the fence about adopting a senior pet? Here are five great reasons to consider giving a home to an older animal:
1. A Senior Pet Might Already Be Trained
Senior pets typically come to the shelter as a surrender or because their previous owner has passed away. Because of this, they've likely already been potty trained and may even know a few key obedience skills like sit or stay.
Because they've likely been in a home before, they've also learned normal house manners. A senior dog, for example, is less likely to chew on your favorite shoes and a senior cat is less likely to scratch up your furniture.
Puppies and kittens require a lot of upfront training and effort to teach them how to navigate life with you. A senior pet is already one step ahead of you, making it easier to acclimate them into your life.
2. Senior Pets are Typically More Relaxed
Puppies and kittens are bursting with energy, and they can require hours of exercise, playtime, and supervision to channel all of that energy into something productive.
Senior pets have already passed the toddler and adolescent growing-up phases, and their energy levels are often lower and more controlled. While your senior pet will still need exercise and playtime every day, they're also likely to be comfortable lounging around the house with you.
3. It Can Be More Affordable to Adopt a Senior Pet
Older pets are less likely to be adopted than young pets. Senior dogs, for example, have a 25% adoption rate compared to the 60% adoption rate of young dogs. Because they're less likely to be adopted, their adoption fees are often lower.
While these lower adoption fees can be offset by vet visit bills, many senior pets are often happy and healthy with lots of life left to live.
The age that a pet is considered a senior also varies from animal to animal, depending on their breed. Many dogs are considered seniors after 7 years old, but many small dogs have lifespans that reach 15 years and beyond.
4. Senior Pets Offer Fewer Surprises
When you adopt a puppy or a kitten, it's hard to know what their personality truly is because they're still growing and changing. They may develop personality traits down the line that don't connect with your family, like aggressive tendencies.
While you do have the opportunity to train young pets from an early age, personality can be the result of many factors, including their breed mix, and won't necessarily be changed completely by training.
With senior pets, their personalities have already been established, and you'll be able to get to know that personality immediately, whether in the shelter or as soon as you bring them home.
It's also easier to know potential health concerns, as well as grooming necessities with an older dog. This means that you can be more prepared for the future, rather than waiting to see what health problems may present themselves as your pet ages.
5. Senior Pets Need Loving Homes
The most important reason to adopt a senior pet is that they deserve safe, loving homes, just like younger pets. Many older pets don't get the second chances they deserve because prospective pet owners gravitate towards younger pets in the shelter.
When you adopt a senior pet, you save the life of an animal with so much love and life left to give. Not only will they be grateful and excited for their new home, but you'll feel good knowing you've made a difference.
What to Know Before You Adopt a Senior Pet
Before you bring your senior pet home, there are a few things you should know and prepare to make them as comfortable and happy as possible.
Learn Your Senior Pet's History
Talk with the shelter staff before the adoption to learn more about the background of your senior pet. While they may not have all the information, they can shed some light on previous medical and behavior history, as well as how the animal came to be in the shelter.
Knowing this information can help you better communicate with your pet and know what to expect in terms of medical needs and training.
Prepare for Mobility Issues
Senior pets are also more likely to experience mobility issues, so it's important to create a safe environment that your new pet can navigate.
Consider adding ramps around your home that lead to comfortable spots like your bed or the couch. You should also secure any rugs around your home with grip matting underneath, to keep your pet from slipping.
If you're adopting a senior cat, getting a larger litter box that your cat is able to walk in without climbing can make their bathroom breaks easier. Raised food and water bowls, no matter the type of pet you get, can also reduce joint pain.
Know What to Feed Your Senior Pet
As pets age, their nutritional needs change. Their metabolism slows, and they often lose muscle mass. Because of this, your pet's diet needs to prioritize maintaining a healthy body weight, as well as providing them with all the key vitamins and nutrients they need.
Many senior pets will need supplements in addition to their daily meals to get all of the nutrients they need to stay healthy. These may include joint supplements and probiotics for digestive health.
Before adoption, ask the shelter staff what your pet's diet has been like recently and if they have any recommendations. Once you've adopted your pet, take them to visit your veterinarian. They can help you better understand your pet's current health, how many calories they should consume each day, and whether or not they need any supplements.
Give a Senior Pet a Second Chance This November
Senior pets, while older, have plenty of love to give to the right family. Puppies and kittens can be fun, but there are many benefits to adopting an older pet, from already being house-trained to lower adoption fees.
If you're looking to adopt soon, don't overlook the senior pets that could be the perfect addition to your home. But as with any pet, do your research before you adopt to make sure you're prepared for their specific needs.
Seniors need pet insurance too! Get a quote from AKC Pet Insurance today (underwritten by Independence American Insurance Company) and prepare for unexpected accidents and much more.