Because older animals deserve forever homes, too.


There's no denying that puppies and kittens can make adorable additions to your household, but before you invest in a youthful new pet, you should also consider that older animals need your love, too.  When you're in the process of adopting a pet from the animal shelter, no matter how old or how young they are, there are a handful of things that you need to consider to ensure you and your furry friend will be happy. Spend time with your potential new pet to get to know them, and ask the shelter if they've ever been in a foster home, if they have any anxiety issues (or any other behavioral issues), and if they do well with children. (And these are just a few of many questions you might need to ask.)

Once you've done your due diligence, you'll find that adopting a senior pet is incredibly rewarding. Here are three reasons to encourage you to check out the older pups at your local shelter.

senior dog
Credit: marcinm111/Getty Images

1. Senior Dogs and Cats Know the Basics

The senior years start between ages 6 and 8 for dogs and 10 and 12 for cats. Older pets are often put up for adoption because of a shift in their family situation—perhaps a death or a move to a residence that doesn’t allow animals. Because they’ve lived in a home before, it’s a good bet they’re housebroken or litter box trained, says Jennifer L. Pease, president, and co-founder of Senior Pet and Animal Rescue in Pittsburgh. Senior dogs also likely know basic commands, walk well on leashes, have outgrown puppy behaviors, and focus well, which means they learn quickly. Other possible pluses: You won’t have to harness the energy of a puppy or kitten, and they’re more likely to spend more time relaxing with you.

2. Their Personalities Are Developed

The personality (and size) of an older dog or cat is already set, so you have more clear indicators about whether they’ll be a good fit for your family and lifestyle, Pease says. For instance, you’ll know if a dog is a barker or does well in a crate or if a cat is affectionate or aloof. 

3. Older Pets Still Form Strong Bonds

Just because you’re getting a pet at an older age doesn’t mean your bond won’t be as deep, says Sherri Franklin, founder, and CEO of Muttville Senior Dog Rescue in San Francisco. The aging process can be scary and confusing to animals; they’ll appreciate you giving them comfort, protection, and love.

Some shelters and rescues focus solely on rescuing and rehoming senior pets. A few around the country include: Forever Loved Pet Sanctuary (Scottsdale, AZ); Mutville Senior Dog Rescue (San Francisco, CA); Old Friends Senior Dog Sanctuary (Mt. Juliet, TN); Old Dog Haven (Oak Harbor, WA); The Sanctuary for Senior Dogs (Cleveland, OH); Senior Dog Sanctuary (Severn, MD); Senior Pet and Animal Rescue (Pittsburgh, PA); St. Louis Senior Dog Project (St. Louis, MO), or search "senior" in the age category on the Petfinder website.

Comments (1)

Better Homes & Gardens Member
June 23, 2021
We recently adopted a senior rescue dog at the shelter a week ago. Tim is a terrier/Yorkie mix. We instantly fell in love with his calm personality. He is 10 years old, but he acts like a puppy full of energy. Tim is completely housebroken and is very good with a leash. He is our 5th rescue dog. I highly recommend you adopting senior dogs or cats. God bless you if you adopt rescue dogs or cats.