Every day, in shelters all across the country, senior animals are passed over by prospective pet owners. Why? Some people are looking for the energy of a new puppy or feel older dogs offer families too little time. But the truth is, providing a new home for an older animal may bring you a level of companionship you never imagined.
“Any shelter worker will tell you, puppies and kittens get adopted first and older shelter pets have a higher likelihood of being euthanized,” says Andrea Arden, a dog trainer who’s been featured on Animal Planet and the Today Show, and spokeswoman for Tractor Supply Company’s Pet Appreciation Week. “But if you’re considering adoption, there are great reasons to choose a more mature pet.”
Older animals can be just as cute and lovable as their younger counterparts. In fact, they often come with many wonderful qualities that take years to develop in younger animals.
Here are a few benefits to consider as you’re looking for a forever friend:
Saving a life
It’s no secret that senior pets are at a disadvantage in shelters. Not only do they have a lower likelihood of adoption, they are also more prone to depression and confusion as a result of their new environment. Consider how they got there; more often than not, a senior animal ends up in a shelter due to owner surrender. It could be an older owner’s declining health, an unforeseen move or a sudden change in financial situation. Still, these are wonderful, loving animals that simply had no place to go. By choosing to adopt a senior pet, you’re providing a second chance at life and, with that, can come a lot of fulfillment.
Say so long to training
Lucky for you, the majority of senior animals have already learned the fundamentals – everything from toilet training to various commands to leash walking. Not having to spend weeks and weeks on training can be a valuable perk of adopting a senior pet.
Age is but a number
However, should you want to teach an older dog a new trick, you’re in luck. Animals can be trained at any age; in fact, more mature animals may have a longer attention span, so you may actually find it easier to teach your senior pet something new.
What you see is what you get
Adopting an older pet means its size and temperament are established, increasing your chance of finding the perfect companion for your household. Have a cat? No problem, many senior dogs have already lived in a home with felines.
Lots of love, less destruction
Senior pets are typically well past the search-and-destroy phase, minimizing the possibility of unwanted accidents and bad behavior.
Something for everyone
The mellow disposition of a senior animal makes them a great companion for people of all ages. Their lower energy level is often a perfect fit for the elderly, while their calm presence can be great for families with children.
Wonderful years ahead
Arden urges pet parents not to let the shorter lifespan of an older pet keep you from adopting one. Depending on the breed, a dog of 7 or 8 years may have at least as many good years left ahead, and most breeds of domestic cats can easily live to be 15 or older. It’s also important to note that while veterinary attention and medication are needed for animals of all ages, old age doesn’t necessarily mean higher costs.
“You wouldn’t avoid making a human friendship just because the new person in your life is mature,” Arden says. “When you adopt an older animal, you can still have plenty of time to enjoy their companionship. Because they’re older, you’ll be inspired to make every moment with them as loving and rewarding as possible.”
Preparing for senior pets
Good nutrition and regular veterinary checkups are important for all pets, especially seniors. Look for a specialized food, such as 4health Premium Pet Food, to ensure your pet is receiving the vitamins and minerals needed to stay healthy. You can also find walk-in PetVet Clinics at Tractor Supply stores where you can save as much as 70 percent off the cost of yearly vaccinations, microchipping and other preventative treatment options.
Supporting the cause
Finding a senior pet that’s right for your family is easier than you might think. During the week of Sept. 14-18, many of Tractor Supply’s 1,500 stores across the country will host Pet Appreciation Week where they will feature on-site pet adoption events with community shelters and rescues, some offering senior pets. The main event on Saturday, Sept. 17, will also feature prizes, giveaways and demonstrations on pet nutrition. Check with your local Tractor Supply store to get more details on the Pet Appreciation Week events happening near you.