adopt older petIts a perfect time to adopt a senior pet. Chances are you’re spending more time at home while the Covid-19 is still here. Now there’s more time to go on walks, love on your pet who will give you so much in return.

Do you have room in your heart and home to adopt a senior pet? There are so many animals out there longing for a place to call home. While some are lucky enough to have been found and placed at a “no-kill” shelter or private rescue foundation home, the majority wait out their days at a public shelter, and after a period of time, if not adopted, face euthanization. For most of these animals, this fate is not their fault – they are simply victims of circumstances.

We know it’s hard to ignore the lure of a warm and fuzzy puppy or a young animal when you’ve made the decision to adopt a pet. You envision a whole life with the little one ahead of you. But what about the white muzzled dog or cat looking at you with desperately hopeful eyes, that might have had a loving home and because of illness, death, rental housing restrictions, or financial circumstances the owners could no longer properly care for their once-cherished pet? These animals may experience a greater amount of angst at their plight as they remember snippets of their past life. And animals do feel loss. But sadly, for the most part, older animals are overlooked when pet seekers look for a long term companion to adopt.

Benefits of Adopting Older Pets

Mature dogs and cats actually make delightful pets – for so many reasons.  In a family that does not have small children, a more mature couple, or a single person who may not have the luxury of providing the daily training and oversight a puppy requires, a mature pet may be an easy lifestyle match.

Typically, senior pets available for adoption are not “problem pets” who were given up due to destructive or aggressive habits – they have lost their homes for a variety of reasons, often death or infirmity of an owner, which usually are not related to their behavior or personality. Some may have medical conditions the prior owner may not have had the financial ability to cover medical costs, or been unable to administer care for them properly, particularly the elderly or infirm. Most had been cherished family members. However, there are unfortunate older pets which are simply given up or abandoned for many reasons true animal lovers cannot fathom. These are truly worthy of a second chance.

So why are more mature animals a good choice? There are many.

They Are Already Trained: In almost all cases, except perhaps for puppy mill rescues, these animals are already housebroken and respond to some simple obedience training commands.

Longer Attention Spans: Puppies are adorable, but like young children, don’t sit still for extended periods of time when they aren’t napping. Older animals, especially dogs, typically have sizeable attention spans, and are willing and able to learn new tricks to please you!

Calmer: Older pets already have an established personality, and tend to take things more in stride. Yes, they have periods of happiness and excitement where they may express their joy with an outburst of energy, but most are accustomed to noises, people, other animals and activities of daily life. They are generally calmer than younger pets. Overall it’s easier to envision how they’ll fit into your home and lifestyle.

Less Destructive: It is a puppy’s nature to chew, gnaw and nibble, not to mention nip as they progress through the teething phase. A mature animal typically has learned boundaries as to what can and cannot be chewed upon. And they already have their adult teeth, so it would be a rare case that they will gravitate towards your favorite new shoes, leather jacket, couch pillows or swallow your gold ring Remember the necklace swallowing episode from Marley and Me?? Not going to happen.

What You See is What You Get: The animal is already full size, their fur has finished growing in, their shedding potential is easily discerned with a few long strokes down the back, they have been socialized and their personality is established. It is clear whether they get along with other animals, or do not fare well with small children, which is important for many potential adopters.

They May Have a Documented History: Senior pets generally have some kind of medical records and owner history, which may help determine if you have compatible lifestyles and you are able to assume all of the responsibility for caring for the animal.

Saving an Important Life is The Most Important Benefit

It is unfortunate, but a reality, that when public shelters reach capacity, the more medically challenged and/or mature animals are overlooked for younger ones and may be the first to be euthanized. When you adopt an older animal, you help heal their loss, they are able to live out their remaining days in a comfortable and caring environment. In short – you save their life. And as many pet owners who rescued an older pet have quoted; “A rescue animal rescued me”.

For more information on how to adopt a senior pet, visit the Greater Huntsville Humane Society. Whitworth Animal Clinic has been providing animal care to the residents of Madison, Huntsville, Decatur and other surrounding areas for over 30 years. We are here to support your decision to adopt an older pet and can provide excellent veterinary geriatrics care for your companion through their golden years.