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Adopt-a-Senior-Pet Month, takes place in November

It is a sad fact that when it comes to senior pets, they are often overlooked at shelters in favor of younger pet companions. Senior pets tend to spend the longest amount of time at a shelter or rescue before finding their forever home—if they find one. Adopt-a-Senior-Pet Month, which takes place in November, means to educate the public on what great pets senior pets can be. It reminds us that there are many senior pets in shelters who want nothing more than to be in a loving home to live out their golden years. The benefits of adopting a senior pet far outweigh the minuses.

Generally, for a dog to be considered a senior, they must be at least seven years old if they are large. Small dogs aren’t considered to be senior until they are in their teens—the smaller they are, the longer their lifespan. Cats are considered senior around 11 years of age.

The fact is that pet owners, especially first timers, do not understand how much patience and energy a young pet takes. Young pets require constant attention and monitoring, whereas a senior pet would have no problem being by themselves more often. A mellow nature makes senior pets a great choice for families with children, or senior citizens who are looking for a pet with a low-key temperament. Before ending up in shelters, the majority of senior pets came from some sort of family life, and can therefore adjust more quickly to a new home than younger pets.

Another advantage of adopting a senior pet is that they are already house trained and most likely know basic commands and other tricks. If they don’t, contrary to popular belief, it is much easier to teach them than puppies or kittens. Senior pets also offer no surprises as far as personality. What you see is what you get! While younger pets are still developing, senior pets already have a unique character, making it easy to decide if they will fit well with a family or future owner.

While senior pets can be active, healthy, and bring years of love and fulfillment to you and your family, it is also true that some senior pets may have some medical issues or other conditions that would classify them as "special needs." This may incur additional costs for vet care, a special diet, medications, or other needs.  Be sure to discuss any special health conditions and any potential needs a pet may have with the shelter prior to the adoption. You should also check in with your veterinarian, too, for feedback and advice. If you’re still unsure, ask about fostering that pet prior to adopting to make sure it be a successful placement for both of you.

Despite the fact that bringing home a senior pet can bring up a unique set of challenges, those who have had the pleasure of the experience often continue to adopt senior pets. When acquaintances come to visit a home with a senior pet, they may also be inspired to volunteer, foster or adopt senior pets themselves.

Some humane societies and shelters offer incentives for people who are looking to adopt a senior pet, such as free adoptions for a pet over a certain age.  Check with your local shelter to find out about their senior pet promotions for November.

There are many stories of how senior pets show how grateful they are to their new families. Any senior pet parent will say that they notice an extra special bond with their pet when they bring them home, almost as if the pet knows that they have been rescued and are grateful. When a family decides to open their hearts and homes to a senior pet, it is a step in the right direction to save a life and bring awareness to the plight of others. Please consider adopting a senior pet and encouraging others to do so as well!