What Advice Would You Offer Someone Adopting a Senior Dog?

Those of us who have been fortunate enough to share our hearts and homes with a senior dog know just how special those gray-muzzled darlings can be. Earning the love of an aging pup who truly needs you creates a special bond that’s hard to put into words.

True, they may have some age-related health issues (like arthritis, dental disease or failing vision or hearing) that require attention or treatment. But older dogs have lots of pros, too, like the fact that they’re likely to be better trained than a puppy and they’re probably game to lounge around with you and take it easy. And when it comes to adopting a senior dog, you have the benefit of knowing what you’re getting in terms of size and in most cases, personality.

Our readers recently shared some great tips for people getting their first dog or cat — and in fact, we know that many of you have opened your homes to adult dogs. So when we wanted to offer tips to people looking to welcome an older canine into the family, we turned to our Vetstreet Facebook followers and asked: What’s the one piece of advice you’d give someone adopting a senior dog? And, as we suspected, our readers came through with some excellent — and touching — words of wisdom.

Advice for Someone Adopting a Senior Dog

Many readers expressed the importance of showering your senior dog with love. “Love them unconditionally, as you don’t know how long you will have them,” said Peggy Lowe-Brooks. “Enjoy each day they are in your life.”

Rich Dunn agreed, saying, “Love them, love them. [T]reat them like family, be there to the end and hope someday to see them on the other side!” Dee Davis added, “Make sure you’re committed to love, care and cater to them for them the rest of their lives.”

Mike Carroll suggested remembering that, for some dogs, age might be just a number: “Have fun with them; they still have a lot of energy and the desire to do most anything they ever did before. Baby them big time and be ready to be on the receiving end of some serious love and affection from them. Just let them enjoy the rest of their life like never before.”

William West Patience’s experience backs up Carroll’s suggestion. “I have had dogs that lived until 15, then I adopted one that was 16 because no one else would,” he said. “It has been a rewarding experience and has taught me so much. Except for some mobility issues he doesn’t know he’s an old dog.”

Of course, it’s important to remember that taking on a dog during his golden years can be a big responsibility, and potential owners should be ready for that. “…[R]emember they may have expensive medical bill[s]; be prepared to give them the medical care they will need,” said Priscilla Leuliette.

Susan Holt Stanley was of a similar mind, saying, “Love them with your heart, care for them medically and tell them a million times how special they are!”

And Sarah Vaughn reminded us of the golden rule: “Be patient! One day you’re going to be elderly and you don’t want someone yelling at or getting frustrated with you because you move so slowly and have accidents because you can’t make it outside (or to the facilities) in time.”

If you’re considering bringing a senior dog into your home, there are numerous things you can do to help him enjoy his senior years. You might take steps to pet-proof your home in a way that makes it easier for him to get around. And believe it or not, teaching your old dog new tricks isn’t only possible, it’s a great way to help your new-old pup stay mentally and physically sharp! Getting him to the vet for regular exams and keeping an eye out for any physical or behavioral changes is important for dogs of all ages, but becomes perhaps even more important as he ages.

Care2 readers, what advice do you have for people adopting senior dogs?  Tell us below in the comments.

By Kristen Seymour | Vetstreet.com

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John B
John B1 years ago

Thanks for sharing.

Jim Ven
Jim Ven2 years ago

thanks for sharing.

heather g.
heather g2 years ago

Many kind people adopt older dogs. At one stage I used to walk past our local SPCA. There was a very handsome dog that they couldn't place in a home for over two years at that time. It wasn't even an old dog.

Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus2 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Rosslyn O.
Rosslyn O2 years ago

Good advice given in the article and with the comments. A couple of ours (and friends) 16 & 17 yr old dogs went for walks every day as usual... All the excitement of getting the leash and harness on, out the door, through the front gate, and perhaps just past the neighbours driveway, and then they were ready to go home. Yet, we all had our jokes about it, but continued the routine for them. I must admit the oldest dog we homed was 5 to 6 years old. The oldest horse was 17 years. Lady lived another 6 years and the horse Max, 33 years and 7 months. Both were loved to the moon and back. The money costings (although very real) never equated to love them any less or feel burdened by them in our lives.

Telica R.
Telica R2 years ago

Thank you for sharing :)

Marija Mohoric
Marija Mohoric2 years ago

tks for sharing

Glenn G.
Glenn G2 years ago

I mean sure, you want to make things easier for them and keeping up with all the potential health issue can be tough, however keeping older dogs / pets a little active can go a long ways to keeping them healthy and happy. My dog trainer told me it doesn't have to be a crazy amount of activity but just enough so they are not just laying around all day. Even if its just following you around the house.

C H.
C H2 years ago

Get down to their eye level & see the world as they do - clear obstacles they may be 'put-off' by, provide steps to navigate also investigate if their bowls need to be secured or lifted on stand for ease of use. Discuss with vet or reputable pet store about therapeutic treatments for skin, arthritis & diet. MOST OF ALL treasure them & include them in everything you do :)

Ruth C.
Ruth C2 years ago

They want you to love them just like all animals do.