Truths about Adopting a Senior Pet

If you’re ready to adopt a dog, consider opening your heart and home to one of the thousands of senior pets available in shelters and rescues across the country. November is National Adopt a Senior Pet month, which was established to remind people of older animals that are waiting to bring joy and warmth into your life. Adopting a senior animal can be a life-changing experience for you and for the dog you bring into your home.


Why So Many Senior Pets are in Shelters or Rescues

Many people hold the faulty belief that if a senior pet is unwanted by others, then the animal must be unsuitable for a home. The same thing be said about any dog in a rescue or shelter, but when it comes to an older dog, there’s something unique--and often overlooked by pet adopters:

Senior pets are more likely to have come from a loving home only to have been placed in shelter or rescue through circumstances beyond their control.

Common Reasons Senior Dogs are up for Adoption

Often the reason a senior dog is placed in a shelter or rescue has more to do with the owner than with the dog’s behavior, health, or trainability. Many senior pets come from loving homes in which circumstances prevented proper care of the pet. The pet owner/family may have…

  • died and there is no one to care for the pet.

  • moved into assisted living/ long-term care where pet are not allowed.

  • had to move out of their house into a smaller residence that does not allow pets.

  • lost a job and no longer has the financial means to care for the dog.

  • has an aging parent moving into with them and the aging parent is allergic to that family pet or has other medical concerns that make the pet a risk in the home.

  • been a military person deployed overseas long-term and has no one to care for the pet.

Now that you understand some of the reasons why a senior dog may be in a shelter or rescue, it’s time to do some myth-busting about adopting a senior pet.

Busting Misconceptions about Adopting a Senior Dog

Commonly held misconceptions about adopting senior dogs include that these animals are:

  1. more difficult to care for

  2. have too many health problems

  3. are detached or, the opposite, too needy

  4. not trainable and are more destructive

Let’s bust these misconceptions one-by-one:


Senior dogs are not usually more difficult to care for than puppies.

Like any newly adopted pet, the senior dog requires a period of adjustment/decompression in their new home. This may take longer than it would for a younger dog...or they may settle in right away. Many variables can affect this adjustment time, making it longer or shorter for a senior pet (e.g., layout of the new home, how many people are in the new home, familiar toys, kitty litter, etc.) Additionally, puppies require more attention, more energy, and more time to care for and to train whereas senior pets may be more chill and have been trained already.


Senior dogs have too many health problems.

Many animals have health problems, no matter their age. Sometimes a senior pet’s health problems are a result of an owner’s inability to afford or monitor the dog’s health.

For example, if the owner has dementia or some other chronic health condition, then they probably were not able to attend to the dog’s daily care and medical needs.

Once in a loving home, with attentive daily care (food, water, hygiene, exercise), many pets with health conditions can regain an active and vibrant life and go on to live long lives. Even if the senior pet does have long-term health needs, they deserve a loving home where they may live out their remaining years in the loving care of a special owner. That could be you!


Senior pets won’t interact with people; Senior pets are too needy.

Many senior pets are people-focussed. In fact, some senior pets appear detached in the shelter because they have been away from “their person/people.” Give those low-key, aloof-looking, dogs sitting quietly by themselves in their crates a chance. Ask to see them outside those spaces and spend time with them...you might be surprised how their personality emerges when taken out of their holding area where dozens of other dogs are bouncing all around.


In contrast, some people argue senior pets are too needy. Well, any pet can be “needy.” Wouldn’t you feel needy if you were forced out of a home, or taken-in off the street and moved into a strange place? As the human ‘leader’ for a new pet, it is up to you to guide, provide, set boundaries, and support a new pet of any age.


Senior dogs are not trainable and are more destructive than puppies.

Have you ever puppy or young dog? They can quickly overrun your home, ripping into the trash, chewing the couch, soiling around the house, and digging up the yard. Young dogs and puppies MUST be trained and kept busy so that your home is safe for both them and you. Older dogs are much more likely to figure out where to “go,” respect boundaries that you teach them, and be easier to handle in general. Senior pets can be just as trainable, and sometimes moreso, than a younger animal that has a shorter attention span or which hasn’t gotten the “zoomies’ worked out of their system.


Delaware Senior Pets are Special

At Weather or Not and Kitten Sittin’ of Delaware, we help pet owners with routine care for cats and dogs of every age and stage of life. We support pet owners in their normal work-day routines,during vacations, and when human life gets crazy and their cat or dog needs extra special attention.


We believe all pets are special; but senior pets hold a special place in our hearts. Our experience has shown us that senior pets are just as amazing as younger ones--sometimes more so. Senior pets come from widely different situations and when adopted into a loving home (as many of our own pets have been), they thrive and they give back limitless love and loyalty.


If you are considering adopting a senior pet, please reach out to Senior Dog Haven & Hospice to see how you can help a senior cat or dog in need of a home.


And for the senior cat or dog already living at home with you: remember we are here to support your pet’s routine--walks, feedings, playtime and cuddles! Call us today: 302-304-8399 or become a client.



Learn More about Senior Pets


ASPCA: “This November, Open Your Heart to a Senior Pet.”

DogTime.com “Spread the Word: November is National Adopt a Senior Pet Month



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