6 Things You Need to Know to Adopt an Older Pet
Anyone who has owned a pet would tell you that there’s nothing like the comfort and companionship that they provide. There’s something about those trusting looks, those loving nudges, and even the sloppy kisses that has the ability to bring comfort and lower stress in almost any situation.
There are many benefits to sharing your life with a pet. For example, people with pets tend to have lower blood pressure. Pets can also ease depression and loneliness and encourage physical activity.
Clearly, there are many good reasons to consider adopting a pet. However, pets do require a significant amount of time and energy. If you are prepared to care for a pet but are concerned that you may not have the energy, an older pet could be exactly what you’re looking for. They are frequently less demanding than younger pets but offer all of the same benefits to your physical and mental well-being.
Here are a few things you should know if you’re thinking about adopting an older pet.
1. Older Pets Tend to Have Less Energy
Older pets are frequently a great fit for someone with a quiet lifestyle. As they age, many animals become significantly calmer. A young cat who tears around the house or attacks anything that moves may find that he prefers to spend his senior years curled up next to you on the sofa. Or a dog who was constantly looking to tumble and wrestle in his youth may mellow out and become a gentle, mild-mannered companion.
2. Older Pets May Be Easier to Train
One of the great things about adopting an older pet is that many of them have already had important basic training. An older cat will have been using the litter box for years. An older dog will be house trained, will probably know commands like “sit” and “come”, and will also know the difference between his chew toys and your favorite shoes.
Of course, that’s not to say that you may not have to teach them a few new things. They will have a new routine to adjust to once you bring them home, and your expectations may be different than what they were used to before. With patience and consistency, older pets can learn new tricks and rules. And the training process is a great way to spend some quality time with your new buddy. It will strengthen the meaningful bond you’ll share.
3. Older Pets Are More Predictable
When you adopt an older pet, you won’t be in for any surprises. Staff at the shelter or rescue will be able to give you important information about their personality and can fill you in about any potential behavior issues. You can be more certain that you and your pet will be a good fit for each other.
It’s important to ask questions to find out as much as you can about any pet you are considering adopting. Are you looking for a lap cat or one who is more independent? Do you want a dog who loves new people, or is it OK if your pooch is a little shy? Do you have grandchildren who visit often? You may want to find out how the pet you are considering interacts with children. Think about what is important to you, and you’ll be better able to find the perfect furry friend.
4. Older Pets Need Special Care
Any time you are caring for an animal, there is the potential for vet bills. But as they age, pets are more prone to certain health issues. Many vets recommend twice-annual wellness checks for senior cats and dogs. This allows them to catch and treat potential problems early. At times, this may involve procedures and/or medications. It’s important to look at your budget and plan for how you will care for the expenses associated with having a pet.
5. Older Pets are Not Risk-Free
Even though older pets may be more gentle and calm, life with any pet presents certain risks – especially if you struggle with balance or mobility. If you’re not paying attention, it’s easy to trip over a pet who has chosen to take a nap in the middle of the floor or who comes out of nowhere and starts rubbing your legs. There’s also the possibility of spilled food or water that could make the floor a little slippery. Even toys laying around can throw you off balance.
Older dogs still need exercise, and walking a dog can be a great way to get yourself moving as well. However, if you plan on walking outside year-round, you’ll need to pay attention to icy spots to avoid slipping. And if your dog sees something that sparks his interest, a sudden jerk on the leash could easily throw you off balance. Some seniors employ a dog walking service or enlist the help of friends or family to minimize those risks.
6. Older Pets Need You as Much as You Need Them
An older animal can provide you with joy, laughter, and constant companionship. But there is another side to the decision to open your home and your heart to a senior pet. You may be literally saving a life. Older animals in shelters are frequently passed over in favor of younger, “cuter” animals. Many of them are the first to be euthanized, or they may end up living out their lives without finding a permanent home. You’ll be giving them the chance to live out their lives in a happy home, and they’ll reward you with loyalty and unconditional love.
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