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Benefits to adopting senior animals

By Meagan Montmeny, ABCDT, CPDT-KA

 

The decision to add a pet to the family is a big one. When considering a pet, many people consider the size and temperament, but it’s just as important to consider the animal’s age.

 

People often look for adoptable puppies or kittens. But they may not consider if they have the time, energy or lifestyle that’s best suited to raise a young pet. Young animals, much like babies and toddlers, need considerable time and attention to learn and grow. A puppy or kitten is perfect for someone who can be home much of the day, but it can be less-than-ideal for someone with a busy schedule that keeps them away from the new pet for long periods of time.

 

On the other hand, older animals are often litterbox or housetrained and are used to life with a family. They can be a great fit for many homes, but they’re often overlooked for younger animals.

 

November is Adopt a Senior Pet Month, and it’s a perfect time to shine the spotlight on our lovable seniors. Senior dog and cats are:

 

Predictable. You can’t always know how big a puppy will grow. With adult dogs and cats, you can determine whether your housing situation and lifestyle are the best fit for an animal that size. It’s easier to tell if you’re a good match with older animals’ personalities, which is more consistent as they age.

 

You should know if the pet has any possible health issues as the shelter may have a more complete idea of an older animal’s medical history. SPCA Tampa Bay provides advanced screening on all dogs seven years and older, including senior health screen bloodwork, complete blood count, organ function enzymes, thyroid levels and heartworm test.

 

Great for first-time pet owners. Training and helping puppies and kittens grow into happy, healthy, well-behaved adolescents often takes more work and supervision than new pet owners may realize. Older dogs and cats make great companions for first-time pet owners because they are often already housetrained and their demeanor is calmer.

 

Past the “puppy behavior” stage. Older dogs have all their adult teeth and likely won’t chew up your house. Puppies and kittens have an abundance of energy, and older pets are often mellow with spurts of energy during playtime. An older dog that’s not already housetrained can often learn quickly and likely won’t have as many accidents in the house as a puppy.

 

Adaptable. Older dogs and cats often have an easier time adjusting to young children or other animals as their new roommates. They are usually more patient with children than puppies that don’t yet know, or have a hard time remembering, how to behave appropriately around kids. Senior animals are often a good fit for older individuals or people with less active lifestyles.

 

Easy to train. Older dogs often already know basic commands like sit, down and come, and are often housetrained. Older cats are usually already comfortable using the litter box. Many senior dogs can learn new tricks easily, too, because they have more experience interacting with and listening to humans.

 

Able to bring joy for many years. Seven years old is considered senior for most cats and dogs, which means many of them still have plenty of healthy years ahead to offer love and companionship. You have the ability to make a senior dog or cat’s golden years some of the best they’ve had.

 

Natalie A. Conner, the owner of Love My Dog Resort is passionate about senior dogs, too. SPCA Tampa Bay has partnered with Love My Dog Resort to offer the Diamond Dogs program to educate people on the benefits of adopting an animal over the age of 7.

 

Love My Dog provides advanced medical screening to dogs in the Diamond Dog Club, including blood work to screen for senior health. Love My Dog Resort offers free daycare for a month at its 54th Ave. N. location, one free grooming appointment and three free visits to its Water Park.

 

Every pet at SPCA Tampa Bay is spayed/neutered, microchipped, up to date on vaccines and screened for heartworm. SPCA Tampa Bay includes the cost of a Pinellas County pet license with the adoption fee. For more information on adopting a senior animal, visit spcatampabay.org/diamonddogs.

 

Meagan Montmeny, ABCDT, CPDT-KA is the behavior and training department manager at SPCA Tampa Bay in Largo. She is a certified professional dog trainer and has completed the 13-week Dogs & Storks educator course offered by Family Paws Parent Education. Meagan is currently working to complete her master’s degree in companion animal behavior analysis and counseling.