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
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
, 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
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
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
, 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?
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
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
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