November is Adopt a Senior Pet Month - Here’s why dogs and cats “of a certain age” should be your BFF

Person sitting on steps wearing a Best Friends T-shirt with an elderly dog on his lap
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Alina Hauptman : alinah@bestfriends.org

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It’s November, the month of Thanksgiving and all things pumpkin spice. What you may not know is that November is also Adopt a Senior Pet Month, shining a spotlight on the amazing dogs and cats “of a certain age” available at shelters and rescues across the country. 

According to Julie Castle, CEO of Best Friends Animal Society, there are many reasons to consider adding a senior pet to your life. 

“Whether you’re looking for an active senior to go on walks with or a couch potato to help keep you company, there are plenty of older dogs and cats who would love to be your new best friend,” Castle said.  

As Castle noted, most senior pets were once in a home, so they usually have great manners after acclimating to a new routine.  

“They tend to fit right into their surroundings like they’ve been with you forever,” Castle said.  “Unfortunately, senior pets can be among the most at-risk in shelters, even though they’re tried and true companions that just need a second chance. That’s why Best Friends is encouraging everyone to consider adopting a senior pet now.”  

Here are some more fantastic reasons to adopt a senior pet: 

  • Puppies and kittens are cute, but they also need to be trained, socialized, and can be a bit unpredictable when being handled (especially by children). That’s a time and energy investment some families may not be comfortable with. Ask an adoption counselor about older pets with a positive history of living with youngsters and being housebroken. 

  • Instead of having to go through that annoying chewing and destruction phase, most older pets just want to hang out with their people and their toys or find a cozy spot in the sun to curl up for a nap.   

  • If you like specific breeds, they are typically easier to find at shelters and rescues as seniors. There are also breed-specific rescues that often have fantastic older pets. 

If you’re concerned about adopting an older dog or cat due to potential health issues, it’s important to discuss the pet’s history with shelter staff. Shelters do intake exams upon admission and review any historical notes the pet may arrive with.  

“Once you have that history and any other veterinary assessments done during the pet’s shelter stay, staff will be able to advise what kind of specific medication, food, supplements, or increased veterinary visits they may need,” Castle said.  

Not ready to commit just yet? Ask if you can foster the dog or cat first. Most shelters and rescues have programs that provide all necessary supplies and medical care while the pet is in your foster care.  

If you fall in love and decide you want to keep your new friend forever, that foster can easily transition to an adoption. “We used to jokingly refer to that scenario as 'foster failing,’ but we’ve recently started to call it 'foster winning.’ It’s always something to celebrate when a homeless pet of any age finds their people,” Castle said. “Adopting and fostering are two of the ways people can help us reach the goal of making America a no-kill country by 2025.” 

Ready to find that special senior? Get started by visiting bestfriends.org now to find a rescue or shelter near you. To sweeten the deal this Holiday season, Embrace Pet Insurance will cover the adoption fees of cats and dogs adopted through all Best Friends Lifesaving Centers and programs across the country, as well as all animals at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Kanab, UT. 

About Best Friends Animal Society

Best Friends Animal Society is a leading animal welfare organization working to end the killing of dogs and cats in America’s shelters by 2025. Founded in 1984, Best Friends is a pioneer in the no-kill movement and has helped reduce the number of animals killed in shelters from an estimated 17 million per year to around 355,000. Best Friends runs lifesaving programs across the country, as well as the nation’s largest no-kill animal sanctuary. Working collaboratively with a network of more than 4,000 animal welfare and shelter partners, and community members nationwide, Best Friends is working to Save Them All®. For more information, visit bestfriends.org