Just take a minute to imagine living the majority of your life in a warm, happy household with treats and playtime galore. You go for walks around the neighborhood you’ve known for years, you can always count on your next meal, and you toss around familiar squeaky toys you’ve chewed on since you were young. Then without warning, you find yourself sitting in a four-by-four foot, cold, metal kennel surrounded by loud noises and people you’ve never met. People come in and out but always settle on the cute, bright-eyed, jumpy puppy a few cages down. Every time you get your hopes up, the nice lady up front says, “Don’t worry, you’ll get adopted soon.” This is the reality for many senior pets that are surrendered to shelters just for being “difficult to care for” or “not as fun as they used to be”.

When families set out to adopt a pet they usually have their eyes set on a baby, like a puppy or a kitten. Unfortunately, senior pets are less likely to be adopted and often end up spending the rest of their lives in shelters without a family. These animals deserve a second chance, and that’s why November is ASPCA Adopt a Senior Pet Month.

Some people assume older dogs and cats are in shelters because they are destructive or have bad behavior. However, there are plenty of reasons why a pet can end up homeless by no fault of their own. Family relocation, death, financial complications, or drastic lifestyle changes such as divorce can have detrimental effects on dogs and cats. Sadly, this can put senior animals at an increased risk for euthanasia when left at shelters.

If you’re planning on adopting a furry friend for your family, we encourage you to consider a senior pet!

Adopt a Senior Pet MonthShi Tzu running on the street

ASPCA Adopt a Senior Pet Month promotes the adoption of adult cats and dogs to show that animals are deserving of a forever home, regardless of their age.

Senior pets make a great addition to homes, but it is important to know that they come with their own set of risks. Adopting an older dog or cat could possibly mean more visits to the vet, depending on their breed and existing health conditions. For example, there are many common ailments that develop in senior dogs, including:

  • Arthritis
  • Gum disease
  • Diabetes
  • Blindness
  • Kidney disease
  • Cancer
  • Dementia

In addition to health ailments, a lot of people are deterred from adopting older animals knowing they’ll have less time together. Older pets can still have many years of companionship to offer with enough love and care. Plus, caring for a senior dog or cat doesn’t have to break the bank if your pet is covered by a Prudent Pet doggo or kitty insurance plan!

Just like puppies and kittens, adult dogs and cats truly just want a comfortable home and human to love. Despite the possible need for more medical attention, there are plenty of benefits to adopting a senior dog or cat.

Benefits of Adopting a Senior Pet

Tabby cat lying on chair

Don’t let potential medical issues convince you otherwise: older pets are fantastic companions. The truth is, senior cats and dogs easily adapt to their new home life. This is due to a few reasons:

1. Senior Pets Are Usually Already Housetrained

Adult dogs and cats usually are usually potty-trained and don’t require the constant attention a puppy or kitten would. This means you probably won’t have to take your dog out every hour or monitor your cat’s litter box all day.

2. They Require Minimal Training

All the problems that come along with a puppy or kitten are of little worry when adopting an older pet. Scratching furniture, eating shoes, and getting into the trash are normal behavior for young animals, but senior dogs and cats are less likely to cause trouble.

3. Their Personalities Are Already Developed

It can be hard to tell how a young animal’s personality will develop as they grow up. With older pets, you already know their temperament, whether they like children, and if they get along with other animals.

If you’re unsure about taking on the responsibility of a puppy, for instance, look at the adult dogs for adoption at your local shelter. The thought of training a young animal can seem overwhelming, so a senior animal is a perfect compromise.

4. Lower Exercise Needs

If you happen to be an older couple looking for a four-legged friend to watch TV with, cuddle in front of the fire, and have relaxing playtime inside, a senior pet may be right up your alley. Senior pets tend to have less energy than a puppy or young adult, but will still want to be engaged and have a good time. 

Preparing to Adopt Your Senior Pal

Woman cuddling with senior dog

Just like you would do for a newly adopted pet of any age, it’s important to help them feel safe and comfortable in their new home. Before you bring home your new four-legged friend, here are a few things you can do to help make the transition as smooth as possible.

Get the Scoop

If your senior pal was living with a foster before coming home with you, ask them what foods they did or did not like, what their daily schedule was, and if they were comfortable with children or other pets in the houses. Getting the inside scoop about your new friend can help them acclimate them as smoothly as possible. Get familiar treats or toys they may have enjoyed, anything to make them feel comforted and safe. Keeping to a similar daily schedule (breakfast, potty time, etc.) can help them sleep easy, which is especially important for senior pets.

Invest in Quality Bedding

Senior pets may struggle with chronic pain, arthritis, or sleeping disorders, comfortable, supportive bedding is extremely important to help them live healthy lives. Find a bed that is the correct size, is durable, can be machine-washed, and has foam.

Minimize Distractions

If you live in a more active household, try to put your new friend’s crate or bed in an area that is quiet and darker. This can help seniors relax and sleep well, especially when they’re not used to your lifestyle. Some senior pets may enjoy sleeping in a crate with a blanket strewn over the top; however, make sure they are not anxious entering the crate. If so, stop immediately and try other sleeping arrangements.

Adjust Other Pets Slowly

Before you bring your senior pet home, make sure to have them meet other pets to ensure they will get along. For the first few days, try to limit the amount of time other pets spend with your new addition. Younger pets may be easily excitable when new pets are introduced into the household, so help your senior pets adjust slowly without being overstimulated and anxious.

Where to Adopt Senior Dogs and Cats

Labrador looking away

If you’re unsure where to start, there are plenty of helpful resources to find senior pets. These websites can help you find senior dog and cat rescue organizations that will be the first stepping stone in your journey to find a furry companion.

Below are some of our favorite resources:

Even if you can’t participate in Adopt a Senior Pet Month, you can still help animals in need. Volunteering, donating, and reporting animal cruelty to these great organizations, or to your local animal shelter, is a great place to start.

And remember to spread the word to your pet-seeking friends! There are a lot of older puppies and kittens in need of homes — and these animals have just as much love to offer.

Dog and Cat Insurance for Seniors

Old man sitting with cat and dog on red bench

Unlike other pet insurances, Prudent Pet doesn’t believe in excluding pets just because of their breed or age. Pet insurance can help cover accidents or injuries if they arise. Senior pets may benefit from enrolling in dog or cat insurance if they need x-rays, surgeries, Rx medications, prescription food, etc. For annual exams and other preventative healthcare, you can choose to add one of our Preventative Care Add-ons to any pet insurance plan.

Learn more about our coverage by visiting our Pet Insurance 101 section or by giving us a call at 888.820.7739.