Senior Pet Care

Pet Care Animals Cats Dogs Pets Pet Health Posted Jun 11, 2024
Learn about the benefits of adopting an older pet and caring for them in their twilight years...
The benefits to adopting a senior pet

What are some of the benefits to adopting a senior pet?

You know what you're getting

Remember, puppies and kittens are only young for a very short time. As they grow, their temperament and behaviour changes, as well as their size! When you adopt an older animal, especially one that has been assessed by a good animal welfare organisation, there are generally fewer surprises - you know their size, their grooming needs, and their likes and dislikes.

Puppies and kittens can be a real handful!

Young animals can be a little challenging at times, generally requiring a lot of time and attention. Expect a few sleepless nights to start, possibly some wayward nips, chews and scratches while they're learning how to behave; and a number of clean-ups while you're going through toilet training. You also need to dedicate time for good socialisation and training for dogs too.

Any pet owner will tell you it’s all worth it in the end – but one of the benefits of adopting an adult or older pet is that a lot of the hard work has been done for you! They tend to be calmer, are already well-adjusted to family life, and have likely had at least some training.

Many older animals are young at heart

If you think you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, think again! Adult and older pets still love to play, and still need exercise and entertainment for their mental and physical wellbeing. Your new pet will likely be excited to join your family, and you can expect plenty of fun, puppy or kitten 'moments' as they check out their new surroundings and get to know you.

A senior pet is likely to be a little slower and a lot calmer, with plenty of wisdom and life experience hidden behind those grey hairs and whiskers.

It's a feel-good choice

Its generally not too difficult to find a new family for a cute puppy or kitten. But animal shelters have plenty of sweetly tempered, beautifully behaved, healthy and active adult and older animals that are there through no fault of their own, and who are regularly overlooked for younger pets.

Giving a well-deserved second chance to an adult or older pet can be a rewarding and valuable lesson to teach your younger members of your household, too. When you adopt an older pet, you really are giving a home to an animal in need, and you've very likely found yourselves a dedicated friend for life.

How will my pets appearance and behaviour change as they age?
  • Slowing down - sleeping more than usual, less interested in active exercise or play
  • Greying of the muzzle - often starts in middle age but can vary between pets
  • Cloudy, bluish eyes - this may or may not affect vision depending on your pet's health
  • Hearing loss
  •  Muscle loss
  •  Weight loss or gain

Remember to take your pet to your vet for regular checkups to ensure they're living their best life, especially if you notice any change in their behaviour, eating habits, toileting and mobility difficulties.

I've adopted a senior pet, what is the best way to care for them?

Your pets comfort and wellbeing should be your number one priority. Some tips to know:

  • Older pets may need more rest. Somewhere quiet where they won't be disturbed in soft, cosy beds away from harsh weather conditions (hot, cold etc).
  • They may need to go to the toilet more frequently. Discuss incontinence or any other changes with your vet.
  • Keep your pet's essentials easily accessible. Make sure everything your pet needs is within easy reach so they don't have to go too far to find their water, food, toys and bed.
  • Give them something to grip. Smooth, slippery floors can be difficult for older pets to walk on, so put a rug or carpet down to give them some support.
  • Talk to your vet about your pet's mobility. As your pet ages, they may be unable to climb stairs, steep hills or struggle to get into your car. Changing your pet's access to areas and utilising pet ramps, can help.

Talk to your vet about the best diet and supplements you can give your pet based on their age to help improve their wellbeing.

Thinking of adopting an older pet? Check out the RSPCA Second Chance Seniors looking for new homes here.

How important is exercise to my senior pet?

Keeping senior pets moving through regular exercise, where applicable, is just as important as they age.

For example, exercise and playtime is vital for maintaining your dog or cat's mobility, and providing all the stimulation they need mentally as well as physically.

Exercising your older dog requires some adjustments to keep them motivated and comfortable and this should be planned in consultation with your veterinarian. As your dog ages, they will likely need shorter, more frequent walks with more rest stops. Be sure to go at their pace rather than rushing them and be alert to any sign they are tiring. It's best to use familiar routes that are not too far from home. Avoid extreme temperatures and keep your dog rugged up in cold weather. If your dog seems stiff or reluctant to walk, they are most likely in pain, so see your veterinarian as soon as possible because they can assess for and manage any underlying condition such as arthritis, as well as advise you on a safe exercise program. Exercising your older dog can also include indoor games and swimming, which places less strain on their joints.

Senior Monty's Honourable Tail

Jacobbe McBride
Share this article
Find the perfect pet