November is Adopt a Senior Pet Month, and there are so many reasons why an older pet could be the perfect match for you. This month, we’ve decided to share two stories from our own staff members: Ashley and Jenn. Both Ashley and Jenn have senior dogs, but Ashley adopted hers as a senior while Jenn adopted hers as a puppy. We discussed the differences in their stories, along with the differences in each pup’s care, in order to demonstrate what senior pet ownership looks like at all stages.
Jenn adopted her lab/pit mix, Red, after a Countryside client brought him into the clinic. She had found him on the side of the road, and he was in desperate need of some love and care. Jenn knew she was just the person to provide that, and ten years later, Red is still such an important addition to her family.
Red has always been a cuddler and a bit of a couch potato, and old age has definitely made those traits more prominent. His hearing has also diminished with time, making him a very deep sleeper, and he is beginning to show signs of kidney trouble.
Senior pets often come with health concerns, which means they’ll need more trips to the vet than their younger counterparts, so it is important to ensure that you have the money and the time to invest in them. Dr. Coval, one of our Small Animal Veterinarians, spoke on this as well. She stated that senior pets are more prone to illnesses such as kidney disease, dental disease, and arthritis, and they also require more frequent checkups than younger pets do, which can be taxing. However, it is helping these pets through their illnesses that is often so rewarding.
Jenn states, “When you decide to adopt a senior pet, a lot of the time, you’re their only hope. You’re the one giving them another shot at life.”
Ashley mirrored that sentiment through her own adoption story. Milo, her “mystery dog,” was rescued by a friend of hers, but Ashley ended up adopting the dog herself after her friend realized how attached Milo was to her. Ashley adopted Milo when he was ten years old, but he was still a ball of energy. When Milo first came home, he was a handful; he was not a fan of people, he had a list of health issues, and he was very aggressive towards Ashley’s other dogs. However, with time, Ashley and Milo formed such a bond, and they both settled into a routine that worked perfectly for them.
Getting an adopted dog settled into a new home always takes time, but one positive associated with adopting senior pets is that this adjustment period is often shorter. For Jenn and Red, it took about two months, but Ashley and Milo’s adjustment period was only a few weeks. This is because senior pets are often already house trained since they typically spend years in a home before being sent to a shelter. Another reason for this shorter adjustment period, according to Dr. Coval, is that senior pets tend to be calmer since they are out of puppyhood. They also already have developed personalities, so you know right away how your senior pet will fit into your household.
The idea of learning your pet’s unique qualities is something Ashley stated was vital in helping Milo adjust to his new environment, and it was something that allowed them to form the close bond they have now. “It really forces you to slow down with your pet,” she says. “You both learn each other’s ways and how to live with each other.” She elaborates by saying that this process takes time, but once you and your pet become comfortable with each other and learn each other’s routines, “there is no stronger connection.”
It takes a very special person to adopt a senior pet. You must be kindhearted, patient, and willing to spend a little extra time at the vet. However, this process is so worthwhile. When you adopt a senior pet, you are saving a life, and you are often choosing a pet that has spent years of their life in a shelter. They are the pets that need a loving home the most, and they have so much love to give in return.
If you are looking to adopt a pet, especially a senior, here are some nearby shelters where your new best friend may live:
Post by Rachel Buckley