Rehoming older pets

We take a look at why adopting an older dog could be the right decision when it comes to bringing a new pet into your home.

When considering getting a dog, many people will have an ideal scenario pictured in their heads.

Often it will involve a cute-as-a-button puppy running around their garden, being mischievous and providing boisterous fun for the family.

Yet, older dogs can bring a lot to the party too. They are wiser than puppies, but still have a playful side, and older dogs make an ideal companion for an elderly or less active person.

Why adoption?

Regardless of a dog’s age, adopting them from a rescue centre or a dog shelter to give them a good home is a brilliant thing to do.

There’s a common misconception that animals are given up for adoption because of behavioural issues, but often a change in circumstance for owners can result in an elderly dog being given to a rehoming centre.

Therefore, through no fault of their own, they are left to find a new forever home, which can prove a little more difficult without those puppy-dog eyes. Adopting from one of these charities or a rehoming centre will give these deserving dogs a loving new home and means they can live out their golden years in comfort and happiness.

Dog rehoming centres need our help

Rehoming centres often speak out about their struggle to rehome older dogs. There are stories of dogs being left in these centres for months and, in some cases, even years.

Not only is this upsetting for the dog, but it can also be costly to the animal charities and rehoming centres, which have to keep them fed, watered and housed. Wood Green Animal Charity states that it costs on average £15 a day to house a dog.

Adopting an older dog can sometimes be off-putting, as they may have specific medical needs or be used to a certain lifestyle – living with no children or other pets, for example.

However, most charities will ensure that anyone considering rehoming an animal with a pre-existing medical condition is fully briefed via the charity’s vet or veterinary nurse. They’ll also encourage potential owners to speak with their own vet to fully understand any likely costs for ongoing treatment.

Of course, ensuring your pet is insured gives further peace of mind should they suffer from any future illnesses or accidents. Petplan works with over 1,200 animal charities and provides four weeks’ free insurance cover for every dog, cat or rabbit that is rehomed, giving reassurance for charities and adopters alike while the pet settles into their new home.

If you’re able to give them the home they need, these elderly dogs are just as lovable as their puppy counterparts and have a lot of love and companionship to give!

How does an adult dog deal with a new owner?

The key to welcoming a new dog is letting him take his time. Dogs have a naturally inquisitive nature, so it shouldn’t be long before you can start to see your dog taking an interest in you, his new best friend.

Dogs are conditioned to make humans the centre of their world. If that person changes, it’s naturally traumatic for the dog, but it will learn to love again.

How long a dog takes to readjust depends on how it was brought up. For example, a dog that was used to different sitters, family members or even households may find it easier to slot into a new home, compared with a dog that only ever had one owner.

When you foster a senior pet, who pays the vet bills?

Fostering can be a great way to help older pets, but it’s good to be clear on the conditions of care before making a commitment. Who pays the vet bills depends on the charity you are fostering for. Often, expenses such as food and transport are reimbursed, and the pet is usually insured, so vet bills are covered. But it’s important to check with the dog shelter before you commit to fostering.

The benefits of rehoming an elderly pet

Older dogs for rehoming are likely to be well trained and have a wealth of experience with day-to-day life in a human world. Oldies are likely to know how to behave around people, are good on walks and get along with other dogs. They’re also calmer than high-energy puppies.

Older dogs require less training

Older dogs will already be toilet-trained and will have mastered basic commands such as ‘sit’ and ‘stay’ – saving you the energy and time spent training a puppy, which can take months!

Older dogs are often calmer than puppies

Dogs generally slow down with old age, so although they may not be able to take part in very energetic play or long walks, they will still enjoy a gentle game of fetch and a short stroll in the park.

If you have young children, a less energetic and boisterous dog may be more suitable. Plus, an older dog will already have their adult teeth, which leads to less household destruction compared with their puppy counterparts.

You can still teach an old dog new tricks!

Although they may not be as energetic as a younger dog, they still have the potential to keep learning and adapting just like puppies.

Older dogs have the ability to focus for longer periods of time, so if you’re worried about training them to your lifestyle, they can often be even easier to teach than younger dogs.

Older dogs aren't necessarily 'problem dogs' as some people think

Older dogs are handed into rehoming centres due to a variety of reasons, including allergies, death of their owner, a new baby, loss of job, a move or change in work schedule. These dogs need homes just as much as younger dogs and make a loyal, fun and wonderful pet!

Older dogs are fully grown

You know exactly what you’re getting in terms of size and temperament – rather than guessing with a puppy.

Adopting an older dog is a wonderful opportunity for you to welcome a new member of the family and can be an incredibly fulfilling experience, while offering a pet a second chance for a happy life.