Adopt A Senior Pet Month

On Thanksgiving we give thanks for many things – home, family (including the furry members), good health, and more. Wouldn’t it be great to add another “thank you” to that? November is Adopt a Senior Pet Month, and senior pets would give you many thanks if you let them join your family. They’ll thank you forever for it, too, not just on Thanksgiving! 

While all pets that find themselves in shelters and rescues face challenges, senior pets (generally defined as those 7 years or older) have more than their fair share. Unfortunately, most people who go to shelters looking for new pets are looking for cute puppies or kittens that they can raise and train and then spend many years with. That means older, wonderful pets with lots of love (and, often, years) left to offer are over-looked. There are many reasons a senior pet can end up in a shelter, but the fact is that older dogs and cats have lower rates of adoption and may spend the rest of their lives in a cage.

Senior dogThere are several reasons you should consider adopting an older pet – not least of which is the love that pet will shower on you for the rest of his days! In fact, most rescuers and adopters of senior pets say that they’re the most loving and grateful of all adoptees. Additionally, unlike puppies and kittens, you can tell almost immediately what that pet’s personality, size and temperament are like (given a little decompression time from the shelter!).  Most older pets are already trained, so you won’t have to house- or litter-box train your new friend. They’re also past their destructive phase – no chewing on your shoes or climbing your curtains here! Finally, while all pets require exercise, older ones need less and are just as likely going to be happy curling up on the couch next to you as they are going for a walk or short run. Older pets are excellent companions!

It is true that older pets (just like older people) can have some health issues. This isn’t true for all senior pets that find themselves in shelters, but it can be for some. The most common health issues for older shelter pets are the need for dental work, blood work and mass removal. While these problems can seem daunting and expensive, it’s important to remember that care for a pet may be expensive at any age. The Senior Dogs Project has a wonderful page that answers many questions about adopting older dogs, and has a great one about adopting older cats!

The bottom line is this: adopting a senior pet can be just as rewarding for you as it is for that pet you just gave a second chance. But if you aren’t ready to adopt, maybe you would consider fostering? Fosters open their homes and their hearts to shelter (and rescue) pets in need of a place to go until their forever homes can be found. Fostering a senior pet is especially important since they often take longer to find their permanent homes than younger pets. The longer a senior pet is in a shelter, the more likely s/he is to become depressed, which makes them less likely to be adopted. Waiting for that forever home in a home environment keeps the pet in good emotional and physical health, making it easier to place him in a new “furever” home.

If you’re in the New Orleans area, both the Louisiana SPCA and the Jefferson Parish Animal Shelter have foster programs and are always looking for more volunteers. Additionally, SpayMart’s “Seniors for Seniors” program pairs of older cats with older adopters. So what are you waiting for? Adopt a senior pet today!