Senior pets retiring early during pandemic

September 2021
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It’s a sad fact that senior pets often spend long periods in shelters and pounds waiting to find new homes, but during the Covid-19 pandemic, our Sydney member Sydney Dogs & Cats Home (SDCH) is finding they’re being adopted faster than young dogs and cats.

Image of woman with elderly dog

Credit: Shaun Wadham

With many households in Sydney working from home, people are turning to the companionship of a new pet, but with young dogs and cats posing a long commitment, families are considering a senior.

SDCH General Manager Mark Hearnden said adopters are looking at senior pets in a new light during lockdown restrictions.

“When you adopt a dog or cat, you’re committing to caring for that animal for its lifetime, which can be 20+ years”, he said. “People are realising that with senior pets, it is a different type of commitment. As long as you can commit to the duration of their retirement, seniors are the perfect pandemic companion. They can be just as playful and affectionate as younger pet.”

All pets who enter the care of SDCH receive thorough health checks before adoption. For seniors, this is often followed by extensive vet treatment to prepare them for retirement.

SDCH Animal Care Manager, Dr Renae Jackson said most senior pets need special attention before they’re ready for new homes.

“Seniors often arrive with health concerns caused by age, or in some cases, neglect,” she said. “These pets require extra veterinary attention from our team, including blood tests, x-rays, surgeries and medication. It can be difficult to enjoy your golden years with untreated arthritis or dental disease, so we do everything we can to make our seniors comfortable.”

Image of vet with older cat

Photo: SDCH Veterinarian Laura Taylor checking on Lillie the 17-year-old cat after dental surgery. Credit: Sydney Dogs & Cats Home

Every year, dozens of senior pets that had arrived lost, surrendered or abandoned are adopted from SDCH. Carmel and Steve who adopted a 12-year-old Maltese x Shih Tzu named Poppy in June say she has brightened their home after the loss of their previous dogs.

“Adopting Poppy and giving her a home for her twilight years is a really fulfilling and entertaining experience,” they said. “She has brought back the energy that our empty house was missing… On the day she arrived home, our house genuinely felt happier again.”

SDCH is Sydney’s only charity pound, so they are only able to rehabilitate and rehome senior pets thanks to the supporters who fund their Senior Pet Project. Currently in its fourth year, the Senior Pet Project raises funds and awareness to give senior pets the retirement they deserve.

To learn more and donate to the Senior Pet Project, visit


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