The Water Bowl
Breed & Health Resources

Adopting: Pros and Cons for Older and Younger Pets

By Lea Jaratz

Large older dog holding puppy leash

There’s no right or wrong way to pick your next addition to the family. When it comes to adopting a pet, you’re saving a life and opening space for another loved one in the process. But have you considered the pros and cons of adopting young, adult, or senior pets in the selection process? You might find the ultimate match by thinking about age instead of just breed, sex, or size.


Bringing Home a Kitten or Puppy

Nothing is cuter than a new puppy or kitten – so bright eyed, fluffy, and smelling of puppy or kitten breath. In some cases, it’s a blank slate for a new home to rear and train, but they can be a lot of work.


  • Cute! Omg! So cute!!
  • Fewer bad habits to break or unlearn
  • Might be easier to socialize with kids or other pets
  • Did I mention how cute they are?
  • In most cases, they’ll be eligible for pet insurance with no pre-existing conditions
  • You’ll know their medical and behavioral history from a pretty young age


  • Bigger cost associated with vaccinations, spaying/neutering, training classes, toys, and accessories as they grow
  • More training needed
  • They need more attention and potty breaks
  • Expect more things to get ruined. Accidents, chewing, and scratching are much more likely in young or adolescent pets
  • Can be scratchy and nippy, which is sometimes a risk for kids or the elderly
  • You might not get a clear picture of what they’ll look like as an adult. It’s impossible to predict their size, personality, how much they’ll shed, etc.

Adopting a Senior Pet

Senior pets are generally harder to place than their younger counterparts, but that doesn’t make them less special. When you adopt an adult or senior, you’re giving a second chance to a pet that might change your home and life for the better.


  • More easy going with less exercise needs
  • More likely to be potty trained and less likely to chew or destroy furniture
  • Might have already been trained to follow basic commands and can be less distracted during training
  • Often socialized to more people and situations
  • So snuggly! You can count on a senior pet to stay on your warm lap longer
  • What you see is what you get: temperament and personality are apparent, letting you pick the right demeanor to suit you
  • Shorter term commitment for those with lots of life changes coming along


  • Might come with some bad habits or you might need to help them unlearn behaviors you don’t appreciate
  • Might need more potty breaks or assistance with mobility
  • More likely to incur veterinary costs earlier into the relationship. (These may or may not be covered by insurance, depending on when you got them covered and when the issue became apparent.)
  • You won’t have as much time with them

If you find yourself liking elements of both young and senior pets, consider an adult dog or cat. Animals over the age of one or two tend to have the best of both worlds. Give it some thought and time and the right pet will manage to find you when you’re ready.

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