Adopting a Senior Dog
There is nothing quite the like the companionship and love of a dog. Your dog is there for you when you come home from work, ready to play on a Saturday afternoon, or to cuddle up for an evening of movies and treats. You have special connection with your dog that grows over time. The more time you spend with your dog, the closer you become. Since you’re thinking of adopting a senior dog, we want you to be reassured that you’ll have this same deep connection with your new-to-you older dog. Remember, your senior dog has likely been through some rough days and is looking for someone to love unconditionally and who will do the same for him. When thinking about adopting a senior dog, there are some different aspects to dog ownership to think about when compared to adopting a puppy. We want you to feel prepared and excited for your new senior dog. Thank you for giving an older dog a fresh start with a safe, loving, and stable home. Ask Questions The more you can learn about your senior dog’s history – the better. Admittedly, the shelter or person adopting out your new dog might not have all the answers, but it doesn’t hurt to ask. Try to find out how your dog ended up in his current situation. For example, did his owner pass away, move, or have to give him up for other reasons? Does the dog have a history of being abused or being in a less-than-ideal living situation? Was your new dog abandoned or a stray? Has this dog exhibited any signs of fear, mistrust, or nervousness around children, men, and/or women? And don’t forget to ask about all the good stuff: favorite toys, favorite foods, favorite games, and favorite ways to relax. In a nutshell, the more you know – the easier the transition will be for you and your new senior dog. Health Concerns Yes, senior dogs do come with different health concerns from puppies and younger dogs. It’s important that you learn all you can about your dog’s health history. Look for any signs of limping, joint and mobility issues, stiffness, watery eyes, sneezing, etc. These can all point to signs of health issues that likely just need some attention from a veterinarian. When taking your new senior dog out for his first few walks, pay close attention to how your dog moves and responds to his surroundings. Is he pulling at the leash with excitement and enthusiasm trying to sniff every nook and cranny? Or is he slow to move and struggling to step over low obstacles? Be alert and pay attention to how your dog is moving or not moving. Make sure you take your new senior dog into your veterinarian for a thorough health check-up. Provide your veterinarian with all the information you’ve learned during the adoption process and first few days of dog ownership. It’s a good idea to get any bloodwork and other tests suggested by the veterinarian done. This information serves as a baseline for moving forward, should your dog’s health change. Above all else, don’t let health concerns stop you from adopting a senior dog. Be confident in the care that you and your veterinarian can provide to give your new senior dog a healthy, safe, and secure home. Comfort and Safety Chances are very high that your new senior dog is craving comfort and safety. Be ready to provide this as soon as you get in the car or walk in the front door. Have a new dog bed with some new toys ready for your new dog. Give your dog a safe and secure place in which he can sleep, relax, and get comfortable. If your new senior dog is coming to you from a noisy and packed shelter, it will take some time for him to adjust to the quiet and change in routine of your new home. Similarly, if your new dog is coming from a long-time home and owner, give him the space he needs to adjust to his new surroundings. Let your dog explore his new home. Give him time to adjust and pay attention to how responds to various objects in your home. For example, you might be 100% comfortable with your new dog sleeping on your sofa, but he may have come from a home where this was strictly forbidden – pay attention to how he reacts to each situation. Your goal is in having your new senior dog feel as comfortable and safe as possible. Remember, every dog is different, so be ready for the time it takes for your new dog to make your home his. Slow and Steady Take your time to get to know your new senior dog and do the same for your new dog. It’s tempting to rush into exploring new parks, walking trails, games, etc. but remember to take things slow and steady. Your focus is on making it easy for your new senior dog to feel comfortable in his new home. Give your dog the time and space he needs to get to know you. Keep in mind where your dog came from and remember this as your dog grows comfortable in his new home. Hint: remember to give your dog some tasty and all-natural treats to help ease the transition period.