It’s November, and fall is well under way! This month is the ASPCA’s National “Adopt A Senior Pet” month. Here at Kingsbrook Animal Hospital in Frederick, MD, each week in November we will focus on different topics concerning our senior furry friends, and things we can do to help make their later years more comfortable and enjoyable.
Often people are concerned about rescuing a dog or cat because of the perception that most animals who end up in shelters have behavior problems. Only an estimated ten percent of pets in shelters have been surrendered for behavioral reasons. The more common reasons animals end up in shelters are issues with other pets in the home; expanding their family (getting married/having a baby); allergies; divorce; financial reasons; and saddest of all, owners who pass away or are relocating to assisted living or nursing homes where they are unable to keep their beloved friend. Many of the pets currently in animal shelters (between 60-70%) are senior pets. By shelter standards, this means they are five years old or older.
There are many great benefits to adopting an older pet. For example, their personality is already formed and easy to read; what you see is what you get, unlike with a puppy or kitten that hasn’t quite developed his or her identity yet. Another perk is that “senior” pets are more content to just be close companions. They aren’t as prone to destructive behavior or high-energy antics, so they will spend more time with their new owner (and their new owner doesn’t have to worry about training/managing a puppy or kitten!). Usually, older pets are already used to living in a house, so they arrive in their new homes housetrained/litterbox trained and accustomed to human schedules.
It’s true that some “senior” pets may require a little more right off the bat in the way of veterinary care. All pets will require preventatives and vaccinations, but an older pet usually has all of the “puppy shots” or “kitten shots” already. That being said, it’s a wise idea to take a potential new furry family member to the veterinarian right away to determine if there are any health concerns that may pose a financial problem.
The best advantage of all to adopting a senior dog or cat is knowing that they won’t become just a statistic–rescuing an older pet is definitely saving a life, since unfortunately these animals are at the highest risk of being euthanized because of shelter overcrowding. Welcoming one of these gentle, loving pets into a new family makes a real difference.