There’s something about seniors! Find out why adopting an older dog could be the right decision when it comes to bringing a new pet into your home.
When they are considering whether to get a dog as a pet, many people will immediately think of a cute puppy. Yet older dogs can bring a lot to the party, too. They are wiser than puppies, but still have a playful side. Also, older dogs make an ideal companion for an elderly or less active person.
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 an owner’s circumstances 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 for more senior dogs. Adopting from a charity or a rehoming centre will give these deserving dogs a loving new home and mean they can live out their golden years in comfort and happiness.
Dog rehoming centres need our help
Rehoming centres have older dogs for adoption. But they often struggle to rehome older pets. 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.
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, getting your pet insured gives further peace of mind should they suffer from any future illnesses or accidents. Petplan works with more than 1,200 animal charities and provides four weeks of 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, elderly dogs are just as lovable as their puppy counterparts and have a lot of love and companionship to give!
How do you settle an adult dog into your home?
The key to welcoming a new dog is letting them take their time. Dogs have a naturally inquisitive nature, so it shouldn’t be long before you can start to see your new dog taking an interest in you, their new best friend.
Dogs are conditioned to make humans the centre of their world. If their human becomes a different person, it’s naturally traumatic for the dog. It will, however, 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.
Who pays the vet bills when you foster a senior pet?
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 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.
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 teething puppies.
Older dogs are not necessarily 'problem dogs'
Older dogs are handed into rehoming centres for a variety of reasons, including allergies, the death of their owner, a new baby, job loss, a move or change in work schedule. These dogs need homes just as much as younger dogs and make loyal, fun and wonderful pets.
Adopting a puppy vs an older dog
You can still teach an old dog new tricks! Although they may not be as energetic as a younger dog, older dogs still have the potential to keep learning and adapting just like puppies.
Senior dogs have the ability to focus for longer periods of time. Don’t worry about training them – they can often be even easier to teach than younger dogs.
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. It can be an incredibly fulfilling experience, while offering a pet a second chance for a happy life.
Have you adopted an older dog? Share your experiences with us on social media using the tag #PethoodStories.