Senior Pet Myths

November 21, 2022
By: Adriana Valle

It’s National Adopt a Senior Pet Month and we’re here to tell you that senior pets make wonderful pets. Unfortunately, many common myths and misunderstandings have made it so that pet lovers are weary of adopting seniors. Today, we’re debunking the four senior pet myths we hear most often.

All Pets Over 7 Are Seniors

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When it comes to cats and dogs, a pet’s size and breed directly affect its aging process. For dogs, size is a major determinant of age and aging. Dogs under 20 lbs, for example, are considered seniors after the age of 11 or 12. Giant breeds, on the other hand, can be considered seniors as early as age 6 or 7. Wear and tear on their bodies and genetic propensities to disease are important factors to consider, more so than age.

In addition, cats are considered seniors between the ages of 11 and 14. Cats tend to live longer than dogs, therefore, it’s important to understand the difference between the two species and their aging processes. A-ten-year old cat, for example, is generally going to be more active and energetic than an 8-year-old Bernese Mountain Dog that may be nearing the end of his life.

Senior Pets Are ‘Damaged’

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While some senior pets may have experienced neglect and trauma, age has nothing to do with a pet being “damaged.” When it comes to trauma and its effect on a pet’s behavior, age has little to do with it. Any pet at any age can have trouble trusting humans due to negative experiences they may have had.

Getting to know a senior pet during the adoption process allows adopters to assess them for problematic behaviors. In contrast, it’s often difficult to define a young puppy’s personality or behavior because they are still in the midst of extensive mental and physical development. With a senior, what you see is what you get. With puppies, only time will tell.

Senior Pets are Unhealthy

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Most rescues and shelters vet their senior adoptables extensively before adopting them. They are given full veterinary checks to prevent them from being returned due to unexpected illness.

Further, age is not the only determining factor of a pet’s health and longevity. It’s more effective to learn about a pet’s breed, individual medical history, and lifestyle instead of focusing on its age. Because some species/breeds can live as long as 20 years, age is just a number. In addition, loving and diligent care can make all the difference in a pet’s health and quality of life.

Senior Pets Are More Work

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If ever there was an inaccurate statement, it’s that senior pets are more work than younger pets. Most pet experts will tell you that raising a kitten or puppy is akin to having a full-time job. Senior pets usually come potty trained, understand various verbal cues, and have long known how to share their lives with humans. Most senior pets are physically able to hold their bladders between walks, are familiar with litter box use, tend to be calmer on a leash, and know how to relax better than their younger counterparts. Most senior pets can be taught many new skills using positive reinforcement.

In addition, senior pets tend to be more intuitive about what humans want from them. After years of living among humans, seniors can assess body language and ‘read the room’ better than most younger pets. Because seniors come with different personalities and energy levels, it’s easy to find the right match for you when adopting a senior. Younger pets are more of a mystery because they are still discovering themselves and the world around them.

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At Shoreline Happy Paws, we consider it an honor to care for pets when they are in their senior and geriatric years. To learn more about how we can make a difference in your senior pet’s life whether you’re at work or traveling, please contact us at or 860-964-0464.

By Adriana Valle

Adriana is the owner and Chief Pet-Loving Officer at Shoreline Happy Paws. She has been a Professional Pet Sitter for over 10 years.

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