November is National Adopt a Senior Pet Month, so SkyBlue is taking a closer look at the benefits surrounding seniors owning pets and adopting senior pets. Read on to find out more about just why these older furry friends can help seniors!
Benefits of adopting a senior pet
There are many benefits to adopting senior pets. Here are just a few:
They need homes just as much as younger pets.
People who go to adopt (or buy) usually opt for younger pets. This leaves a lot of older dogs, cats, and other animals at shelters for long periods of time. Not many people look to adopt older pets, but that doesn’t mean they don’t want homes just as badly as younger pets. Senior pets need love and a good, safe home just as much as their younger counterparts!
You may be saving an older pet’s life by adopting it.
Many people are drawn to older pets because of the potential for good they have by adopting it. When you adopt an older pet, you could be saving its life. Too many senior animals live out their golden years in shelters. By adopting a senior pet, you give them a second chance at life.
Some people shy away from adopting senior animals because of the more intense medical attention they sometimes require. But the majority of senior pets just need a good home—in fact, many regain their vitality with lots of love and affection.
They’re almost always already trained.
One of the benefits of adopting a senior pet is that, often, they’ve already been trained and understand basic household rules and commands. With a young kitten or puppy, you have to put in a lot of time and effort towards training them. You don’t have to worry about that with most senior pets. For this reason, senior pets are a great fit for people who don’t have a lot of time (or interest) in training their pet.
Older pets, especially dogs, are great companions. Seniors dogs aren’t as jumpy as puppies, so they’re more willing to take a walk, play catch, or just sit on the couch with you for as long as you want. Older pets really love to just be with people who love them. Whether it’s a cat, a dog, or something else, senior pets are ready to be your perfect companion.
They’re calmer and more low-key than younger pets.
Senior pets don’t have quite as much energy as younger pets, so that means they’re more mellow and low-key. This temperament is perfect for someone who’s looking for a loyal, calm companion without too much fuss or excitement.
Benefits of seniors owning pets
There are also many benefits to seniors owning pets (of any age). Here are a few of the highlights:
Pets make us happy.
Everyone knows the rush of happiness they get when they see a newborn puppy or kitten. That feeling is actually your brain releasing the feel-good hormone serotonin. So, when you spend time with your pet, your brain makes you feel happier. This is why some nursing homes have chosen to use animal therapy in depressed, anxious, or antisocial residents. A pet can be a great companion for a senior who may be feeling depressed, lonely, anxious, or lethargic.
Pets help reduce stress.
In addition to making us happy, pets also reduce stress. When we see a cute kitten or pet a dog, a chemical reaction happens in the brain that reduces levels of cortisol, a stress-inducing hormone. Maybe this is why it’s so relaxing to pet a napping cat or to come home to a happy puppy! Pets are incredible for seniors who might suffer from increased levels of stress and anxiety.
Pets can be good for your health.
Studies have shown that over a long period of time, interacting with a pet can help lower cholesterol, fight depression, and might even help protect against heart disease and stroke. Pets don’t just make our brain feel good—they make our bodies feel good, too! Many seniors struggle with heightened cholesterol, depression, and/or heart problems. Pets can help them stay healthier for longer!
Pets are incredible companions.
For many seniors, pets are loyal, loving companions who are always there for them. When family or friends might not be able to visit their senior loved ones very often, pets can help fill the desire for interaction and affection. Pets help combat loneliness and make seniors feel needed and loved.
Pets help establish an exercise pattern.
Many pets—especially dogs—require some level of exercise. By exercising their pets, seniors also establish a pattern of exercise for themselves. Even just a 10-minute daily dog walk can make a huge difference in seniors’ health.
Pets help seniors stay social.
Pets require a certain level of upkeep. Owners take them to the vet, the park, the groomer, the pet store, and other places around town. This gives senior pet owners the opportunity to get out and about and be more social in their community. This, in turn, fosters feelings of sociability and communal goodwill, helping to combat feelings of depression.
One more thing…
While seniors can definitely benefit from owning pets, and senior pets can benefit their owners, senior owners and senior pets are not always the best fit. In some cases, senior pets require extra levels of attention and can be medically and financially demanding. This is not always a good fit for seniors who might not have the energy or capability of caring for an older pet. However, for seniors who are more fit and have more free time, a senior pet can be a great match. Just make sure that you take into account your level of capability to care for a pet when you consider adopting an older pet.
Senior pet adoption services
There are many great services and organizations that specialize in the adoption of older pets, the matching of pets with senior citizens, or both. Here are a few:
- Paws for Seniors: Bringing People and Senior Pets Together
- Petfinder: Matching Pets with Senior Citizens
- PetSmart Charities: Senior Dog Adoptions
- Helping Paws Animal Shelter: Senior to Senior
- Young at Heart Senior Pet Adoptions
- Adopt a Pet: Find the perfect senior pet
- The Senior Dogs Project
We hope this article has given you a little more insight into the benefits that owning a senior pet (or a senior owning a pet) can have!
What experiences do you have with senior pets? Do you have a furry friend who is special to you? Tell us about it in the comments section below!