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FAQs About Adopting a Senior Dog

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When you’ve decided that you are ready to adopt, you immediately start looking for the puppy that will complete your family. You don’t care about its breed and aren’t concerned with the cost; you know that once you see your destined dog’s picture, you’ll feel it in your gut. That’s why you were caught by surprise at landing on a senior shelter dog site. You’ve always imagined getting your dog when he was small, but after reading up on the plight of senior dogs sitting in shelters, you start to think that maybe getting a puppy isn’t the right idea.

Should you adopt a senior dog? You already have the dog ID tags engraved and ready for your new furry family member, you just need the dog.

Man’s Best Friend

adopting an older dog You once heard someone callously say that they wouldn’t adopt a senior dog because they “didn’t want to adopt a dog with someone else’s problems.” But you know with the right frame of mind and an open heart, you can change the life of a shelter dog, and they’ll certainly change yours. You’ve seen those beautiful companion stories shared by Susie’s Senior Dogs. You know that senior dogs are every bit as worthy of love as a new puppy. Still, you’re a little hesitant. You have some questions about adopting a senior dog.

Here’s a list of 10 commonly asked questions and answers about adopting a senior dog that’ll give you all the convincing you need.

Q: At what age does a dog become a senior dog?

A: According to veterinarian Fred Metzger , the age that gives a dog senior status depends largely on the body weight and breed of the dog. Generally, small dog breeds aren’t considered seniors until they reach 10-12 years old. Larger dog breeds earn their senior status when they reach 5-6 years old.

Q: Which senior dog breeds are the toughest to get adopted?

A: While many think the Pit Bull is the toughest breed to get adopted (Pit Bulls and Chihuahuas are the most common breed found in animal shelters), it’s not so much the breed that matters as the color of its fur. Senior-aged black dogs are the least likely to be adopted because they are viewed as more intimidating and aggressive. They’re not!

Q: Why has it taken so long for the shelter to get this dog adopted?

A: Referred to as long-stay dogs , some dogs require a longer shelter stay to help them during medical rehabilitation (such as with Abbott at the Humane Society of Tuolumne County) or because of behavioral issues. For example, if a dog was abused by a previous male owner, he may bark and growl at every man he encounters. Behavioral therapy teaches him that not all men are like his previous owner, and that it’s okay to trust again. The senior could also be getting overlooked because of his senior status. The shelter you adopt from will let you know the reason(s) your new found friend has been in the shelter for longer than the average stay.

Q: Is it true that old dogs can’t learn new tricks?

A: No. Like with puppies, all it takes is a little patience.

Q: How do I know my home is situated well for a senior dog?

A: You’ll know it by discussing it with the shelter. Some senior dogs are able to bound up and down stairs, go for long hikes and swim in the pool. Other seniors require a little extra care. Discuss what type of companionship you are looking for in a dog with the shelter, and they will work to match you with dog who exhibits some if not all of the qualities you’re looking for.

Q: Are there special exercises I can perform with my senior dog to extend his/her life?

dog exercise A: There are indoor and outdoor exercises you can practice with your senior that will help him to live a more enriched life. Regular walks, puzzle toy treats and an easy game of fetch will keep you dog happy and healthy.

Q: Are there programs out there to help me pay for my senior dog’s medication(s)?

A: Yes! You can get a pet insurance policy that will help you cover the cost of vet visits and doggy prescriptions.

Q: Why should I adopt a senior dog (who I could lose in a couple of months) when I could adopt a puppy who will live for years?

A: All dogs deserve love. Imagine not ever feeling the love of another human being. Now imagine being stuck in a cage all day as the dogs on either side get adopted into loving homes. Senior dogs are just as loving, compassionate and soulful as puppies. Why not show a senior dog the extraordinary gift of love in his twilight years?

Q: What kind of foods are best for senior dogs?

A: Healthy, all-natural foods are best. Avoid kibble with preservatives, and for a nice shiny coat, mix a scrambled egg into the food dish once a week. For healthy joints, add a fish oil pill.

Q: Will having a younger dog at home be too much for a senior dog to handle?

A: Most animal shelters keep a behavioral log of the dogs and cats they care for until they are able to place them in their forever homes. Documented in the log will be how well (the senior dog in this case) gets along with other dogs and/or cats. Some shelters go one step further and ask you to bring your dogs in so that they may estimate how well your pup and the shelter dog will get along. In some instances, pups and senior dogs get along spectacularly. In other cases, the senior dog would do best being the only pup in the house.

Dogs are a gift, and it’s a shame we only have a few years with them. Adopt a senior dog and make him feel part of the family. Click here for more doggie collars, IDs and toys!

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