The problems of bringing an older pet into a family

When it comes to pets, you may want a young animal, a cute animal, an animal you can train—one that will hopefully be with you for many years to come. And while puppies and kittens are not the only ones in need of good homes, they may be the better option when compared to older pets.

Why opt for an older pet?

There are several reasons why some people prefer to give a home to an older animal. First, chances are that an older animal will already be housetrained; meaning that furniture is safe and no one will have to wake up to any unpleasant surprises on the floors in the morning. Second, their former owners may have abused some older pets, and some people may want to give these animals a second chance for a better quality of life.

That being said, there are, of course, downsides to having an older pet in the family. Older pets are likely to be less tolerant of being picked up and petted, which could be a problem if you have young children who always want to play with the animal in question.

Additionally, the older the animal the more likely it is to become ill and to require veterinary attention. This can be expensive, especially if insurance companies are unwilling to provide coverage for an older animal that has a known illness. Furthermore, there is the inevitable, upsetting fact that owning an older pet means the day of parting must come sooner rather than later—something that may be very traumatic for young children who have lived most of their lives with the pet. There is cost involved in this area, too, with pets having to be euthanized if they become terminally ill. And if you treat your pet as a member of the family, you may desire to put your animal to rest with a pet burial or a pet cremation.

So, if you are contemplating bringing home an older pet, it is first necessary to consider its background. For example, if the pet comes from an abusive home, then it will most likely be very nervous about entering a new environment and will need some time to adjust to its surroundings to feel secure. You will need to leave the pet alone until it is relaxed. If you have children in your family, you will need to explain to them that your older pet needs time to get used to its new home and new family, and that when they do interact with it, they need to be gentle and respect the animal’s moods. An older pet will no doubt have developed its own routines and ways of doing things. You will have to respect these habits and do your best to accommodate them, rather than making your pet change its ways.

It is a wonderful thing to give an older pet a home, as long as you understand that the challenges will be different—perhaps harder than you would anticipate—and that you may be separated sooner than you would wish.


Photo credit:Matt Deavenport on Flickr. CC-BY-ND-2.0

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