How ‘Adopt a Senior Pet’ Month Is Saving Lives

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Each year, Adopt a Senior Pet Month, sponsored by Petfinder.com, grows in popularity and helps to save more and more older dogs from euthanasia in shelters. Adopting a senior dog can benefit shelters and your own home. Here’s how:

Bypass Puppy Training
Puppies offer their own playful companionship and charms, but they also can be high maintenance. “They have incredible energy and require a great deal of exercise,” says Gail Buchwald, senior vice president of the ASPCA Adoption Center and Mobile Clinic Outreach Program. She says that puppies fly out the shelter doors, but owners may, in fact, do better with an adult or senior pet, depending on their particular lifestyle and needs.

Gain an Adult Family Member
Some people worry that senior pets come with problems, but healthy ones don’t often ask for much. They’re usually just looking for a warm place to sleep, companionship, good meals and plenty of love.

Buchwald agrees and walks the talk. She has two pets: an elderly cat and dog. She adds that some owners who take similar medications as their dogs do schedule med times with their pets. “My dog is on a glucosamine chondroitin supplement. A lot of people who also take this supplement for arthritis will take it when they give it to their dogs,” she says.

Senior Pets Are Still Active
Dogs, like humans, often live long, active and healthy lives well past reaching adulthood. “There’s a bias in our culture towards youth, and that extends to our pets,” says Buchwald. “People will fixate on wanting a kitten or puppy, when really their best match might be a senior dog.”

You May Save Money
Many shelters offer adult and senior animal adoption promotions. Check with your local shelter to see what it has in place. Some of the programs help to match senior people with senior pets. The Atlanta Animal Rescue Friends in Atlanta, for example, has a Silver Paws program for older adults who wish to adopt a senior pet. Silver Paws pays for all medical care and even later boarding for adopted dogs.

You can also save money on your medical bills with a senior pet. The Humane Society of the United States reports that the comforting presence of a dog can lower blood pressure and have additional cardiac benefits. Pets also help to ease loneliness, thereby promoting mental health too.

5 Tips on Caring for a Senior Dog

1. Feed your elderly dog a proper diet. “Veterinarians recommend senior diets for older dogs,” she says. Certain dogs may require other special diets if they have particular health issues.

2. Groom and bathe your dog regularly, per recommendations for its breed. If you use a professional groomer, make sure that he or she is informed of any health conditions, such as arthritis, which could require a more gentle touch.

3. Provide regular physical activity, following veterinary guidance.

4. Keep your home relatively quiet. “If your home is like Grand Central Station all of the time, your older dog is likely to become stressed out,” says Buchwald. Make sure your dog has a nice, peaceful spot to retreat to throughout the day.

5. Schedule regular veterinary visits. Prevention and early detection can help to save and extend lives.