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Senior dog close up at park

When it comes to love, the phrase “age is just a number” often comes into play, and the same should go for the animals who are being considered for adoption. Just because a dog isn’t a cuddly puppy anymore doesn’t mean they have any less devotion to give. Here we’ll debunk some common myths about what you can expect from older pets and why we think they’re the cat’s meow. 

We’ll start out by discussing the common misconception that all senior pets at shelters are problematic. Some people assume that if they are still in a shelter at their age, then there must be something wrong with them, but that could not be farther from the truth.

Common reasons most senior pets are in shelters include:

  • Abandonment by a moving family
  • Their owner has passed away
  • A family member became allergic
  • A new baby in the family

Even though numerous people are passionate about their senior pets, there remains a lot of myths associated with adding an older pet to the family, making them appear less desirable than younger animals to adopt.

What’s Considered a Senior Dog?

Petting old dog to calm down

The word senior encompasses many different ages, depending on the pup and their breed. This term, in most cases, would consider dogs between 5 and 10 years old. As for smaller dogs like terriers or poodles, they aren’t considered seniors until 10 or 12 while larger breeds like goldens or huskies can be considered senior by age 5 or 6.

“Identifiers such as weight, breed and the state of their organs can also help determine if your pet has reached old age.” Pet MD

What’s Considered a Senior Cat?

As for senior cats, International Cat Care places their senior designation between 11 to 14 years old while PetMD considers elderly felines to be between seven and ten years old. PetMD also addresses the need for the size of the cat to be taken into consideration along with their age. Vets recommend monitoring how much your cat is drinking and urinating in order to be aware of their overall condition.They also consider how the animal’s behavior can indicate signs of aging. If your cat is getting up there in their years and becomes extremely vocal at night, seems startled or looks lost, or becomes reclusive they could be experiencing aging symptoms and should be checked out by your vet.

Fun fact, thanks to veterinary innovations in feline nutrition, cats are living 3-5 years longer than they did 20-30 years ago.

Common Myths about Senior Pets

Beagle runs around at a green park

Bringing a new pet into the family often conjures up images of small wiggly puppies and kittens. But it’s unfair to assume that because of a pet’s advancing age, they may be less playful, untrainable, too expensive, or, worst of all, not have a long enough life span left. Here we dispell common myths about aging dogs and why people looking to add to their family should reconsider senior pets. Older animals are just as loyal and loving as younger ones and deserve a second chance at happiness. Older dogs offer many benefits to families and could be a much better match for you than a high maintenance puppy.

It’s about time the stigma associated with these silver snouts be put to rest once and for all.

Myth 1: Senior Dogs Don’t Play

Senior dogs do, in fact, play! Let’s not forget that there are puppies who are born and don’t enjoy playing around because, just like human’s, pets have their own personalities. A calmer, wiser and more collected pet may be right up the alley of a slower-paced family, a laid-back couple or a relaxed single looking for a new friend. Some breeds, including the Sporting Group, can even maintain their stamina well into double digits.

Myth 2: An Older Dog Won’t Bond with New Owners

The benefits of adopting a senior pet outweigh the cons. Older pets are just as likely to bond with new family members. The affection or love you receive from your furry friend is not measured by their age but by the love in their heart. The great thing is, with a senior pet, what you see is often what you get according to Healthy Pet’s Dr. Becker. Most older pets are already set in their personality traits, with pups, you run the risk of maybe assuming you’re adopting a laid-back animal puppy only to find out that they are always jacked up like they got into 3 or 4 cups of coffee. If you click with a senior pet when you meet, then you can consider it love at first sight.

Old dog leaning on his parent

Myth 3: You Can’t Teach an Old Dog New Tricks

Some senior pets may have more self-control than younger animals. Combine this with a bit less energy, and it could make it easier for them to focus and learn at a quicker pace, potentially saving you time on training. Some senior pets may have already been trained if they lived with a previous owner who put in the work before placing them in a shelter. This means you may be adding a well-mannered friend to the family immediately.

Training Your Senior Dog:

  • How to smile or yawn
  • How to ring a bell (so you know to open the door for them)
  • How to walk backward
  • How to roll up into a blanket

These are just some of the tricks that senior dogs excel at over younger pups. Here their experience and age become a benefit. These tricks are solely for senior pets because they take a longer time to learn so the pet must be patient and more self-aware. If you’re shopping around for a pet that will impress your friends and family, a senior pet is defiantly the way to go.

Myth 4: Senior Pets have more Expensive Vet Bills

Whether your animal is young or older, no one plans on their pet getting sick or injured, but the reality is that pets are just like us and unpleasant things can happen to them! This is why it’s important to plan ahead for their well-being. One way to do this is to provide pet insurance for your dog or cat. Pet Insurance helps you be ready for accidents or illness regardless of your pet’s age, and it won’t break the bank. Since Prudent Pet has no age limits on policies like other insurance companies may have, we’re an ideal match for your older furry friend.

You insure the things you want to protect like your own health, home, and car, so why wouldn’t you insure your best bud as well? At Prudent Pet, you can craft your pet’s plan based on their needs, and your budget. Pet insurance is a smart precaution no matter your pet’s age.

Paws a moment.

Peace of mind starts here.

Caring for a Senior Pet

Dog kissing man's cheek

Some people may assume a senior pet will require more attention or effort, but the truth is that with senior pets what you see is what you get and they don’t become a 24 hour job like some puppies may.. These animals are just looking for love and affection like we all are.

Senior pets may be prone to things like:

  • Arthritis
  • Diabetes
  • Kidney disease
  • Blindness
  • Gum disease

The key to keeping a senior pet content is identical to keeping any other pet of a younger age happy: provide them the proper care and lots of love! Keeping your pet healthy with exercise and a good diet, is recommended at all stages of their life.

Adopting a Senior Pet

Senior cat close up shot

If you’re looking to expand your family but don’t know where to start here are a few awesome websites to explore for senior pets. We encourage you to keep in mind older animals when adopting. 

If you end up adopting a new senior friend (or a pet of any age) don’t forget to get them covered with Prudent Pet. With pet insurance, you can have peace of mind that your new dog or cat will be covered in case of an accident or illness. Get your free quote today!

Paws a moment.

Peace of mind starts here.

About the author

Alex is wrapped around her sweet Bella’s little paw. Bella, a Bichon/Shih Tzu mix, is already 11 years old, but still has the spirit of a sassy 2-year-old puppy. She’s the best listener and a fantastic workout buddy! Quick to trust and cuddle up to any new human friend; this is what makes Bella so lovable. Bella knows how to give Alex those puppy dog eyes and get endless amounts of treats! She’s truly a faithful companion and Alex’s best friend.

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