November Is Adopt a Senior Pet Month

Handsome senior Labrador Retriever

Did you know November is Adopt A Senior Pet Month? Although it’s more common for pet owners to want to adopt a younger pet, senior pets are just as lovable and appreciative of being adopted and rescued. Some of the benefits to adopting a senior pet can include:

    • Less worry about messes since older pets are generally housebroken
    • Anxiety and mischievous behavior is not as much of an issue with senior pets. This means not having to monitor them as often. However, exercise and play is still a need for older pets
    • Easy integration with family since they have been around longer and are already accustomed to being around people

To find an adoptable senior pet in your area, visit our friends at PetFinder.com.

Whether you’ve adopted a senior pet or own a pet that is maturing into this life stage, there are many health tips regarding maintaining health in our senior pets. Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, said “Let food by thy medicine.” Proper diet is critical in our senior pets. In my veterinary practice I find that a proper homemade diet is the best way of feeding all aged pets. There are some excellent resources for feeding home prepared diets for dogs including books by Donald Strombeck and Richard Pitcairn. It is important to follow balanced recipes, as a poorly balanced homemade diet is worse than any commercial pet food fed to our pets. If feeding a homemade diet is not possible, then feeding a natural, minimally processed commercial diet such as Halo, Nature’s Variety, Pet Guard or Wysong also can be used.

Only if the pet has advanced kidney, liver or heart disease do I typically worry about special types of diets, as I have found that many of the marketed “Senior Diets” are often processed foods with many artificial preservatives and ingredients.

Many older pets are often suffering from degenerative joint and/or spinal disease so I find that adding a good glucosamine supplement such as Super Joint Enhancer, Glyco-Flex, or Cosequin helpful. Omega 3 fatty acids such as Nordic Naturals Omega-3 Pet can help with brain, joint, heart and kidney health, as well as with many inflammatory conditions of the body and skin. Antioxidant supplementation with products like Proanthozone can also help in many of these conditions.

Twice a year veterinary exams are also recommended along with senior blood and urine testing to check for geriatric diseases. In addition, proper dental care is also critical as many senior pets often have periodontal disease. At-home care with a toothpaste formulated specifically for pets such as C.E.T toothpaste can go a long way toward managing dental disease.

I cannot stress enough the importance of making sure not to over-vaccinate senior pets. Most senior pets who have been previously vaccinated have more than adequate protection against core viruses Parvo and Distemper. If necessary, a blood antibody test can be done at your veterinarian’s office to check for protective antibodies against these diseases. Over-vaccinating your senior dog or cat may contribute to autoimmune diseases, allergies and cancer in our senior pets.

If senior dogs or cats have existing joint and/or spinal problems, the use of dog steps and pet ramps to accommodate for stiffness or weakness can also be helpful.

Have you adopted a senior pet from a local animal rescue or shelter? We’d love to hear your stories!

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2 Comments

  1. I adopted my adorable pup from the local Humane Society when he was 10 years old and now he is 14 years young. He was an owner surrender – his previous family no longer wanted him because they said he was “too old.” Can you imagine? Their loss, my gain, that’s for sure. He’s a quirky, confident, loving, stubborn, wonderful little fellow and I can’t imagine my life without him.

  2. I adopted Jackie, an 8 year old lab/boxer mix. Her story was so sad, her owner who had had her since she was a puppy, crated her and went to work and died suddenly on the job. No one thought about her for a couple of days. When they finally remembered her one of the family members took her in but soon put her in a kill shelter. Fortunately she was rescued by a local rescue and I saw her picture and it was instant love. She reminded me of my lab that died from cancer a few years ago. She is so well behaved, house broken and has lots of love to share. Believe it or not, after that horrible experience she is still great about going in her crate when I have to leave the house. She has two little sisters that she gets along with just fine. She is 10 now and I’m so glad we found each other.

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