Adopting a Senior Dog: What to Know

Are you looking to adopt a senior dog and welcome them into your home? If so, here’s everything you need to know!

Jun 3, 2024By Nikita Hillier
adopting senior dog what to know

Choosing to adopt a senior dog is a decision filled with a lot of thought, compassion, and love. While puppies do often steal the spotlight, there is something truly special about giving an older dog a second chance at a loving home.

In this guide, we will dive into what you need to know when adopting a senior dog, including the benefits, potential challenges, and how you can ensure a smooth transition for your furry friend!

Many Senior Dogs Need Homes

old labrador dog laying on rug
Image Credit: Reba Spike on Unsplash

Older dogs often find themselves overlooked in shelters. Most of the time, potential adopters gravitate toward the younger, cuter, and more energetic puppies. However, there are many different shelters and organizations that are dedicated to finding loving homes specifically for senior dogs.

These organizations recognize the beautiful qualities and companionship that older dogs not only need but also offer to their owners. They work tirelessly to match these beautiful old dogs with compatible families who will love them for the rest of their days.

You can find the best shelter in your area through a quick Google search or get recommendations from your friends and family.

There Are Many Myths About Senior Dogs

senior labrador retriever
Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

There are many myths about senior dogs––some of which lead these dogs to ending up in shelters. They include:

  • “All senior dogs are sick.” While some older dogs may have some health problems, a reputable shelter would share this information prior to adoption. If you’re worried about medical emergencies or frequent vet visits, get pet insurance.
  • “Senior dogs are mean.” Not true! Each dog has its own personality.
  • “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” Many dog breeds are quick to learn by nature. So, you can easily train a senior dog some new tricks and basic commands! Just give them some patience when getting used to a new routine. Check out the 3-3-3 rule to understand more.

Remember: what constitutes a “senior” dog varies from breed to breed. For instance, smaller dogs typically live longer than gentle giant dog breeds. A Chihuahua could easily outlive a Bernese Mountain Dog, which don’t live very long.

These Dogs May Have Special Health Considerations

old black and white brindle dog laying down
Image Credit: Madalyn Cox on Unsplash

When adopting an older dog, there are some special considerations to keep in mind. For instance, some senior dogs have health concerns that require regular veterinary care. These issues may include:

While these conditions may require extra care and attention every day, they shouldn’t deter you from adopting a senior dog. Many of these conditions are manageable with proper veterinary care, medication, and love. These issues don’t make caring for an older dog hard; they may just need a bit more attention and proactive care plans.

Know How to Choose the Right Older Dog

black senior dog laying on grass outside
Image Credit: Brett Jordan on Unsplash

It doesn’t matter whether you’re adopting a puppy or an older dog. When bringing a new dog home, there are many things to consider, including:

While some senior dogs may still be active, excitable, and playful, many prefer a quieter, more laid-back lifestyle. Most of the time, they will want to be inside and on the couch with you, lapping up all of the love you can give. Take plenty of time to meet several senior dogs and get to know what their individual personalities are like before you make a decision.

Remember, even if you only expect a dog to live for a few more years, getting a pet is a big commitment!

Prepare Your Home for a Senior Dog

old brown dog up close
Image Credit: Jairo Alzate on Unsplash

Before welcoming a senior dog home, prepare your living space to meet their needs. This may include:

  • Providing a comfortable bed or sleeping area. Your dog should have a place to call its own from the very beginning. You may consider lining a crate with comforters and blankets. Or, you could purchase a soft dog bed that helps with joint pain.
  • Offer easy access to food and water. Even if your new friend is on a diet to prevent obesity, they should have water whenever they feel like drinking. Some older dogs with diabetes or kidney problems may be thirstier than their problem-free counterparts.
  • Accommodating mobility issues. If your senior dog experiences problems with coordination or walking, consider adding ramps or steps to help them navigate stairs or furniture. This will also be more helpful for dogs who have arthritis.
  • Prepare the items you need beforehand. Make sure that you stock up on any necessary supplies such as medication, food, grooming tools, and toys before bringing your new pal home. This helps make the transition from the shelter to your home easier.

Senior Dogs Have Many Benefits

senior german shepherd dog laying outside
Image Credit: Kanashi on Unsplash

There are so many benefits to adopting a senior dog––both for the dog and its owner. One of the biggest and most comforting advantages of owning a senior dog is that, generally, they’re already housebroken. They may already understand basic commands, such as stay, sit, and lay down. So, you might not have to worry about training your older dog!

On top of this, senior dogs usually have much calmer temperaments and are less prone to common behavioral problems than younger dogs. They also often make fantastic companions for older adults or individuals with a more sedentary lifestyle.

Another huge benefit of adopting a senior dog is the opportunity to provide them with a loving and comfortable retirement home. Many beautiful senior dogs have spent a lot of years in shelters or rescue facilities. They truly deserve the chance to live out their golden years in a warm, caring environment.

Nikita Hillier
By Nikita Hillier

Nikita is a huge animal lover who has grown up on a farm with many different animals, from dogs and cats to horses and cows! She has a lot of experience in the equine industry and is even in the process of studying for an internationally accredited Equine Sports Massage Certificate! In her spare time, she enjoys writing and spending time with her beloved animals!