November has been designated as “Adopt a Senior Pet Month” by PetFinder.com in an attempt to get more senior pets into forever homes. Forget the image you may have a tottering older dog. Many senior pets are fit, active, and have many years of love to give.
Most groups designate cats as seniors at about 10 years of age. Some indoor cats can reach age 20 or older, so that still leaves plenty of years of companionship. The American Kennel Club designates all dogs age 7 or older as veterans, but the size of the dog influences how quickly a dog becomes a true senior. A giant breed such as a Great Dane may be a senior at age 7, but a Chihuahua is merely hitting his prime years at this age.
Benefits of Adopting a Senior Pet:
- House breaking and litter box training is oftentimes already accomplished.
- Chewing phases associated with teething are over and done with.
- Exercise requirements have settled into a reasonable amount. Senior dogs are not likely to do “crazy 8s” through the house, and senior cats don’t usually climb the curtains.
- What you see is what you get. A senior pet’s size, hair coat and temperament is already established. There is no risk that the “Chihuahua mix” puppy you just adopted will unexpectedly reach 50 lbs.
- A puppy or kitten is a major time drain for a while. If you work, adopting an adult pet might fit better into your busy schedule.
- A senior pet may have some established habits that don’t fit your lifestyle. However, it’s important to remember that old dogs (and cats) can learn new tricks.
- A senior pet may arrive with some health problems, but these are often manageable. Remember that a puppy or kitten can develop these same problems, just a few years down the line.
With good care, a sensible diet and the right amount of exercise, dogs and cats are living long, active lives. You can expect any adult pet to have some wear and tear on their joints. Even if they aren’t showing signs of arthritis, it makes sense to put them on a joint supplement. Consult with your veterinarian about starting a senior pet on a joint supplement or a pet arthritis medication if necessary. That logic applies to older cats as well as dogs. Cats are excellent at disguising discomfort.
Make sure your senior pet is on the appropriate diet. He may need less calories or a higher quality protein. Some older pets do better with additional fiber in their diet. There are also some supplements and medications available to help keep your senior dog’s mind sharp. Senilife and Selegiline are two medications that may help keep your senior dog up to par.
So don’t pass on by a senior pet in need of a home – you may find a wonderful companion that enriches your life for years to come!