Did you know that November is Adopt a Senior Pet Month? In this season of giving, I am excited to talk to you about the many benefits of welcoming a senior pet into your life, and share some of my experiences with my nine year old dog, Winston. There are just so many reasons to adopt a senior dog (or cat). In fact, it might save his life. Animal shelters are filled with healthy and active senior dogs that are in need of a home.
According to most veterinarians, a dog falls into the senior category around age seven. There are some varying factors such as the size of the dog. Smaller dogs mature slower and become seniors later in life than larger dogs. My veterinariam recommended giving Winston his first geriatric exam when he turned eight. I am glad to share that he is still incredibly healthy and active.
Two of the adorable pups I met at Family Dog Rescue in San Francisco last year.
5 Reasons to Adopt a Senior Pet
#1 What you see is what you get.
There are no surprises. With an older dog, what you see is what you get. Their physical size is established so there are no mysteries. This is particularly important if you rent and worry about whether your dog will exceed the weight limit for your apartment. That cute little puppy could very well grow to be a sixty pound dog.
#2 You know their temperament.
You don’t have to spend a lot of time with a senior dog or cat to get an idea of his temperament. However, getting a puppy or adolescent dog is always somewhat of a gamble. There are many factors that play a role in a dog’s overall temperament, including genetics and socialization. A senior dog already has its temperament established. So if you meet a sweet, laid back older dog, you can expect that he will keep that same temperament for the rest of his life.
Here’s my nine year old Bichon, Winston.
When Winston was a younger dog, he wasn’t as affectionate as he is now. In his older years, he’s become more of lap dog which suits me just fine.
#3 Most older dogs have already been trained.
Most older dogs are potty-trained and have mastered the basic commands (Come. Sit. Stay.). Adopting an already-trained dog will save you a lot of time and energy that you’d normally have to dedicate towards training a young dog.
Also, don’t believe the adage, “an old dog can’t learn new tricks.” It’s simply not true. Older dogs are very capable and eager to learn.
#4 You skip some of the challenges that come with the wild puppy years.
To anyone who has ever had his favorite shoe or coffee table chewed to bits, you can rest easier with an older dog! This behavior is typically reserved for a puppy but not at all what you can expect from a normal, adult dog. Older dogs are much calmer and less energetic than younger dogs.
Puppies require an incredible amount of time and patience. Puppies sometimes whine or bark a lot. Then there’s potty training. Potty training a puppy often involves hourly trips outside, while senior dogs can ‘hold it’ for much longer.
#5 Older dogs make instant companions.
An older dog is ready to accompany you on a walk and already knows how to play fetch. An adult dog will be your loyal companion, and late night snuggle buddy. Dogs are also great listeners. If you have been lucky enough to hold a dog in your arms or have a lap dog at home, you know the calming benefits they bring. There are days when I would enjoy nothing more than spending the morning on the couch snuggling with my pups, followed by an afternoon stroll around the neighborhood.
The need for senior dog adoption is great. I hope you’ll consider bringing a senior shelter pet into your home.
100% of Rachael’s personal proceeds from sales of Rachael Ray Nutrish have gone toward food, medical supplies and treatments for animals in need. You can find every Nutrish recipe — including our specialty recipes with zero grains, glutens and fillers — where you currently shop for your family’s groceries.