A month of appreciation and giving thanks, November is also a month dedicated to adopting and celebrating senior pets. All for good reason, our senior critters deserve all the extra TLC and attention. With advances in animal husbandry and veterinary care, our furry friends are often living longer and happier lives. Unfortunately, despite all they have to offer, senior animals are often more difficult to find homes for. In the spirit of this caring time of year, if adopting a pet is in your horizon, consider opening your heart to an older furry loved one.

Jiggles is living a happy life in his later years. Photo credit Dr Emily Andersen

Truly, there are many positives to adopting a pet with some years under their belt. While sinfully cute, caring for young animals and all of their excessive “joie de vivre,” is not for the faint of heart (as anyone who has had a kitten or puppy around holiday decorations can attest). Older animals often have a more relaxed disposition, while maintaining good fun, cuddles, and bonding. Older adult animals tend to be more settled in their personalities and a potential adopter can often have a better idea of the temperament of the animal they are adopting. Note this does not mean that you can’t “teach an old dog new tricks.” Older animals, while more settled in their behaviors, can certainly be trained and worked with behaviorally to make them the best versions of themselves. Similarly, older animals are physically mature: you know their final size, how much they shed, etc., which can be helpful information to ensure a good match. As such, senior pets can make an excellent choice for adoption by fellow seniors, and many rescue organizations have programs to support this with reduced or entirely compensated adoption fees.

A point of hesitation in adopting an older critter may, very understandably, be around how much remaining time they might have. Thankfully, great strides have been made in excelling animal husbandry and veterinary care which has allowed our beloved critters to live lives that are often longer and of excellent quality of life than in years past. With that said, old animals do carry a higher likelihood of diseases. Discuss any known chronic diseases prior to adoption, and explore what management and prognoses look like upfront and be clear with expectations. Pet insurance, which can vary widely in regards to policy pricing and coverage, can be an excellent option to be able to afford excellent veterinary care at a more manageable and predictable cost. Due to a variety of factors, veterinarians currently are exceedingly busy. As such, if at all possible, ensure prior to adoption that you have established veterinary care, and set up an appointment for an initial examination soon after adoption. Diligent partnerships with veterinary professionals can prevent, treat, and manage many diseases to provide excellent quality of life for senior furry friends.

At the end of the day, finding a home for any animal that needs one is saving a life. However, remember that our elderly furry friends, despite all the joy they have to offer, may have that much harder of a time finding a home. Consider adopting a senior critter – you will truly be saving a life and, in all likelihood, gaining a wonderful friend.

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