As we enter late autumn and for some, an early taste of winter, many communities are bracing for another round of restrictions to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Earlier in the quarantine, families seized the Spring lockdowns as an opportunity to spend time with loved ones, and perhaps even adopt a new pet while everyone was home to pitch in with training. Older adults may not have wanted the long commitment that comes with adding a kitten or puppy to their household. But November’s Adopt a Senior Pet Month reminds people that adopting an older animal can give a pet a second chance at a happy later life with a few added benefits.
According to American Humane, overlooking older animals can be a mistake when they can make excellent pets, especially for seniors who are looking for a calmer, house-trained, and less rambunctious animal. With recent financial hardships and illnesses, many families have been forced to make the difficult decision to surrender a pet. But these senior animals, frightened and alone in a shelter, can make loving and devoted companions with a little time, patience and care.
Older dogs who are adopted to a permanent, loving home can be ideal pets for older adults; and many rescue organizations help cover veterinary bills and prescription food costs to make taking on a senior pet more affordable. Adoption fees for older cats and dogs are often waived and many programs also provide food bowls, collars, food, leashes, and pet beds as part of a free welcome home starter kit.
Older adults who live alone can especially benefit from adopting a pet during this extended period of social isolation. Pet owners have been found to experience lower heart rates and blood pressure, and stroking or cuddling with a fur baby can be a good antidote to the stress and uncertainty of the current pandemic. Dogs come with the added perk of encouraging owners to get more physical activity by walking regularly and provides an opportunity to say hello to neighbors at a safe distance outdoors.
Caring for a pet also gives each day a bit more structure and meaning, helping to reduce loneliness and provide a sense of purpose. But before adopting a pet, even a senior one, it’s important to be sure you will have time now and in the future to provide proper care and the funds to cover unforeseen expenses. The pet you adopt during COVID-19 should also fit into your lifestyle when things return to “normal”.
Learn more about adopting an older pet by following this link to the ASPCA website.