According to many veterinarians, a dog is considered to be a senior around the age of seven, and cats between the age of seven and ten years. The size of the dog plays an important factor, as smaller dogs mature slower and become seniors later in life than larger breeds. For instance, a Newfoundland dog is considered to be a senior at 6 or 7 years of age, while a Chihuahua may only be middle-aged during the same time period. Many animal shelters and humane societies are filled with senior pets needing a “forever home”.
When you are considering adopting a pet from your local animal shelter, don’t look past the older ones. They make excellent companions for a variety of reasons.
- Most senior dogs are already house-broken and have mastered basic commands. Senior cats are litter box trained and know to use a scratching post to sharpen their claws instead of your expensive furniture. Older pets will try and please you by being obedient and showing you good house manners.
- Senior pets are less demanding than the high energy puppy or curious kitten. While many older dogs still enjoy a daily walk, they are also very content to be napping at your feet and cuddling at night. It is never too late to teach an old dog new tricks. They have a greater attention span and are always willing to please. Even cats are able to learn a few tricks.
- Senior dogs and cats are not necessarily “problem pets” as many think. Many pets lose their homes for a number of reasons that have nothing to do with their behaviour or temperament. These reasons could include: the novelty of a new cat or dog wears off, loss of a job, divorce, death in the family, allergies, moving, new baby, and many other lifestyle changes. Senior pets need homes just as badly as younger ones.
- You don’t always know what you are in for when adopting a young puppy or kitten because they are still growing and developing their personality. Senior pets have established their character and temperament, which will let you know right away how they will fit into your lifestyle. There is no guessing how big they will get, the colour of their coat, or what their personality will be like.
- Senior cats and dogs are often the hardest for shelters and rescue organizations to place into new homes. By adopting a senior pet, in many cases, you will literally be saving a life as they are considered to be at a higher risk for euthanasia. Your senior pet can live out the rest of their senior years in comfort and with the honour they deserve
If you are hesitant to consider adopting an older pet because the possibility of a heartbreaking loss may seem to be looming, remember life offers no guarantees. Enjoy every day to the fullest.
For those who have adopted senior pets please share your stories on our Facebook page.