When you visit the animal shelters, do you automatically gravitate towards the tiny, fluffy, helpless puppies and kittens sleeping on top of each other or crying to be picked?

You’re not alone, but before you sign up for raising a kitten or puppy, think about how much work they are – and how much easier it could be to adopt an older, fully-grown dog or cat.

When it comes to adopting an older pet, you have the privilege of choosing their fully-formed personality to best fit your lifestyle. There are no growing pains and few surprises; you simply bring home your new best friend.

Dr Guy Fyvie, Hill’s Pet Nutrition’s Nutritional Advisor says, “There’s no denying the great adventure that comes with bringing home a new puppy or kitten, however, older pets have their own special characteristics to offer, and they should not be overlooked.”

1. Temperament

One of the greatest attributes of older pets is that they have already grown into themselves physically and mentally. Although there might be some changes in behaviour seen at a shelter, most older pets are going to be accurately assessed and you will know exactly what kind of pet you’re adopting. You’ll know if they like other animals, do well with children, prefer to be alone sometimes, how much activity they need, and so much more.

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One of the main reasons young pets are returned to shelters is because their adoptive pet parents didn’t understand exactly what they were getting themselves into. By adopting an older pet, you have a good understanding of the pet you’re lucky enough to bring home.

One of the main reasons young pets are returned to shelters is because their pet parents didn’t understand exactly what they were getting themselves into

2. Your shoes will thank you

Puppies and kittens are cute, curious creatures. They also go through the teething process, and love to chew on everything. Young pets are notorious for tearing up shoes, pillows, toys and anything else that tickles their fancy. Adopting an older pet means you won’t have to constantly keep an eye out for mischievous play.

3. Older dogs (and cats) can learn new tricks

Even if your new, older pet hasn’t received any formal training, adult dogs and cats are calmer and more focused than their puppy and kitten counterparts, making them the perfect candidates for learning basic commands or more impressive moves for treats. Also, their former owner may have already taught your new fur baby how to sit, stay or lie down.

Read more: Adopt your next furry friend at PICK a PET!™

4. Exercise

All pets (and humans) need physical activity. Exercise keeps their bodies and minds healthy and limits a lot of undesirable behaviour brought about by under-stimulation and boredom.

Older pets need much less exercise than puppies and kittens. However, this doesn’t mean older pets don’t like to have fun. Most older pets love activity. In fact, many are surprisingly active and agile in their maturity; they just don’t need quite as much exercise.

For an older dog, a walk a day, a game of fetch with their favourite toy, or a quick swim is often enough to keep them physically and mentally stimulated, and for cats, a scratching post, tunnel, games with a toy mouse and catnip, are all age-appropriate activities.

Older pets want to be with their people, and they are as content to settle down in their favourite spot in the house as they are to be outside in the sunshine.

5. Veterinary care

It might seem like an adult pet will need more veterinary care than a puppy or kitten, but this is not necessarily the case. Unless you’re specifically looking to bring home a pet with special needs, most older pets in shelters are healthy and just need somewhere to call home. They are already spayed or neutered, they are up to date with their vaccinations, and they are less susceptible to the many diseases that pose a danger to puppies and kittens. An older pet is fully-grown, established, and ready to find a home they can stay in forever.

6. An abundance of love

If you have ever rescued an older pet, you know they always seem to know how lucky they are. These older pets have a lot of love to give. They are always grateful, and they never fail to show it. Older pets can quickly transition to a new home and provide an unbelievable amount of love to their new family.

7. Nutritional care

If you’re considering adopting an older pet, make sure to also consider what you’re going to feed your new family member. Mature pets have different nutritional requirements. You should look for a food that is formulated specifically to meet your pet’s needs; including brain function, energy and vitality, immune and digestive system, and coat support.

Read more: City living without pets increases risk of mental illness

8. Age is just a number

Older pets provide just as much love, companionship and excitement as younger ones. No matter the number of years lived, pets will enjoy regular exercise, playtime, and Netflix marathons on the couch with you. Let an adult pet lead a more relaxed, caring life by your side.

Video: Watch The Benefits of Adopting an Older Pet below