Senior Pet Programs

Here’s a great idea  – senior humans caring for senior pets! Most foster or adoption groups offer senior pet programs.

Animal welfare organizations are eager to make the adoption process easier to boost the number of senior pets who find good homes. Some organizations, especially in the US, specifically promote senior pet programs under various names. Most Canadian pet adoption organizations don’t label special senior programs but do have something similar in place for seniors willing to foster or adopt a senior pet. 

All organizations are currently in need of more fosters and adoptions of senior animals.

Many senior animals had loving guardians who could no longer care for them. Perhaps the guardian is deceased or hospitalized and family  cannot care for another pet. Or perhaps the guardian must move to an elder care facility and cannot find one that will accept their pet.

No matter the reason, these pets deserve caring homes in their final years. They still have lots of love and companionship to give.

PAWS Progressive Animal Welfare Services is based in southwest Ontario, and doesn’t offer adoption or fostering services. However, we receive many questions and feel this concept is such a good idea that we want to share it!

Basics about Senior Pet Programs 

Adoption and foster groups generally prefer to match seniors with senior pets. Kittens and puppies are bad choices for seniors as they require too much exercise and play, and potentially can trip seniors while playing and zooming about. Senior pets typically are quieter, calmer and enjoy more lap time, and slower walks.

Pets Can Improve Seniors’ Lives

Older adults who are up to daily pet care tasks and can afford veterinary care, can really benefit from having an animal companion.

  • Regular walks provide good exercise and help humans stay connected to their neighborhood. A friendly canine is a good conversation starter too!
  • Researchers have found time spent with pets can lower stress hormones, ease loneliness, and protect heart health in seniors.

The ideal animal companion doesn’t raise its owner’s stress levels or wear them out. A senior pet doesn’t require:

  • Neutering or spaying
  • House training
  • Obedience training
  • Safety-proofing of the home or yard
  • Long energetic walks or play time each day

One potential downside to adopting a senior pet is anticipating age-related health problems. Modern veterinary care can do amazing things to help older pets live longer and more comfortably. Since senior animals sometimes require more veterinary care, you might consider pet health insurance if it fits your budget.

How to find a senior pet

Connect with a pet adoption or pet foster group in your area to see if they offer a ‘seniors helping seniors’ type of program. 

  • In my home town of London ON, Animalert is one of the most progressive and well-run charities with adoption as a focus. They don’t have a specifically named ‘senior program’ but their common practice is to match pets appropriately to seniors. 

To find local shelters and rescues near you, try a google search of  ‘shelters near me’, or type your postal code on this petfinder site to see who needs a home. This is a great site with a filter button – for example, click on Senior and then on Small and you’ll find local, small, senior animals looking for a home! That search can identify the active shelters in your community so you can contact them about fostering or adopting.

The need for senior pet adoption and fostering is high!

Foster homes or adoption of senior pets is very much needed across Southwest Ontario.  Animals are being turned away, leaving caregivers with difficult, and sometimes heartbreaking choices.

Senior pet programs help reduce the number of senior animals who languish in shelters because so many adopters prefer puppies and kittens.

Please consider adopting or fostering a senior pet or recommending this to a lonely friend or relative. You won’t regret it!

Other resources