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“Autumn is the time of year when Mother Nature says, ‘Look how easy, how healthy, and how beautiful letting go can be.’”
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  Volume No. 15 Issue No. 9 September 2018  

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Dr. Jim Humphries

  Adopting an older pet friend
  By Dr. Jim Humphries

   If you would like to adopt a new pet friend, don’t forget one of the most overlooked categories at the shelter: the mature or senior citizens. Adult pets are just as lovable and can sometimes be a better fit for your home and family.
   Adult pets are less likely to destroy property, such as shoes, blinds and furniture. They are often already housebroken or take to housebreaking quickly because they are not as distractible as puppies, which saves the rugs and carpeting. I would recommend if you adopt an adult dog, you ask a lot of questions and find out why the pet was given up and if the adoption agency knows anything about existing behavioral or medical issues. You may not want to adopt a behavioral problem or a dog with end-stage disease such as cancer or heart failure. Some very special people do adopt such animals and find satisfaction in working with behavioral issues or even treating a disease until the pet reaches the end of its life.
   But for the average family looking for a loving pet, an adult pet is typically less expensive! Depending on the health status of the adult pet when it is adopted, it is possible that starting life at your house will be less expensive than a young puppy or kitten. Best way to ensure this is to take the animal to your veterinarian for a full checkup and get them current on all preventive meds and vaccines.
   Young puppies and kittens not only need a series of vaccinations and deworming treatments, but also might need to be spayed or neutered. And just like young people, young animals are also more susceptible to infections and viruses, which can land them in the veterinarian’s office or even a trip to the emergency room. The cost of these services adds up.
   It is true that older pets may come with their own challenges. Some adult pets in shelters could have special needs, from simple fixes to complex treatments. Depending on their background, they may have some infections or parasites to deal with. They can also have some behavior issues that came with them from an unloving home. But I say that is all the more reason to adopt them. It allows you to use your talents and your loving home to fix problems and give them the love and respect they deserve –- not to mention you are likely saving their life.
   Once you bring them home, watch for any weight loss, excessive drinking or urination, decreased appetite, pain, or chronic diarrhea or vomiting; and any of these signs should be reported to your veterinarian. While each animal is different, caring for an adult pet may be an easier experience than raising a puppy or kitten, especially if you have done your share of puppy raising. So, if you are considering adopting a pet, be sure to give an adult pet a chance.
   Oh and look at this: As you well know, pets play an increasingly important role in our lives. This is especially true with young couples. Some families say the pet is as important as their children. But would you stay in a bad marriage because you are worried about your pet coming from a broken home?
   Dogs can live for 15 years and cats into their 20s. So what do you do if your relationship ends? According to a recent study, some people are staying together just to make sure their pet doesn’t suffer from the separation. But do they suffer?
   The study actually found that 14 percent of pets that came from a broken home reportedly require anti-anxiety medication after a breakup. Other behavioral problems can also occur such as a loss of house breaking schedules, weight gain and early aging. The poll even showed that many couples can’t make a decision about custody of their beloved pet, and they can’t stand the idea of giving the pet up for adoption.
   The net result of the poll was to show that a number of pet owners will remain in a relationship to prevent their shared pet from experiencing any negative effects from a breakup. This is a good example of the lengths many take to protect our pets’ emotional and physical well-being –- even if it means making sacrifices.
Dr. Jim Humphries is a veterinarian and provides hospice and end-of-life care for pets in the Colorado Springs area. He also serves as a visiting professor at the College of Veterinary Medicine at Texas A&M University. He lives in Falcon with his wife, horses and Great Danes.
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