November brings many key moments of the year… Clock changes, Remembrance Day, the arrival of Santa, and, if we’re unlucky, that messy stuff we call snow. In the animal world, it’s been accepted as Adopt a Senior Pet month. This might seem contrary to popular belief that you should be adopting puppies or kittens, but there is good merit to the idea.
While puppies and kittens can be fun, they are a lot of work! From actually acquiring them, to their initial vaccine series, to house training and behaviour classes, it’s an almost like a full time job some days. These younger pets will often be with you for 10 or more years and that is part of the appeal for some people; the idea of being able to do more active things together is another. So why should you adopt a senior pet or why is a month necessary to promote this?
Senior pets are just like your grandparents… They have a massive amount of love to give. Some of them may have had a home before, while others may have been strays or of an unknown background. Generally, when I’ve seen older pets, they tend to be incredibly friendly. Other bonuses are that they tend to come already spayed or neutered and many have their full set of vaccines – both of these are big cost savers up front for things that you will experience with a younger pet. Older cats may be more cuddly and have a lap cat personality, whereas dogs will vary more in their activity level, but this gives you the choice to find a pet who has known traits of being laid back or semi-active (without being hyperactive-crazy) that best matches with your activity level or lifestyle.
But how did we get here? Sadly, many of these pets have been dumped in a shelter or with a rescue group for a number of reasons. For some, it was a change in family conditions at their previous home, while for others they may have been given up for health related reasons. Yes, with an older pet, the likelihood of health problems can increase, so while you won’t have to pay for all those puppy classes or spaying/neutering, you will need to consider working with your veterinarian to do some wellness screening to uncover diseases early, or develop a long term management plan to improve their quality of life.
Too often, a puppy or a kitten can be a novelty gift if the recipient is unable or unwilling to put in the commitment towards raising them – this may often happen around the holiday season. By taking in that senior pet, you may have a better idea of the companion you are adding to the family. And hey, senior pets may not be for everyone and that younger pet better fits your lifestyle, but when getting a pet, don’t discount the older ones.
Dr. Ryan Llera is a small animal veterinarian at the Kingston Veterinary Clinic. Though originally from Florida, he married a Canadian (who is also a vet!) and they share their home with two cats, two dogs, two horses, and a rabbit. Dr. Llera also contributes writing to various other animal and veterinary related blogs. You can find more of his writing at www.DRRYANLLERA.com, or see what else he is up to on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.
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*Please note that specific medical questions about your pet cannot be addressed and you should speak with your personal veterinarian.
Disclaimer: All columns are personally written and my opinion and may not necessarily reflect those of current or former employers.