Part of being a dog owner, is watching your pup age. You see those “happy hairs” start to creep around their face and then permeate their fur. You love them even more as they settle into the old man/lady stage and make sure their lifestyle changes with their needs. Unfortunately, a lot of dogs end up in shelters or rescues in their senior years. This is due to no fault of their own and they deserve to spend their remaining years in the comfort of a loving home.

So maybe you’ve considered adopting a senior dog to join your family. First let me say – BRAVO! As someone that has adopted senior dogs, I can tell you it is incredibly rewarding, and they are amazing companions! Let’s spend this blog covering what to expect if you bring a senior pup into your life.

You’re going to know more about them.

Most importantly, you’ll know their personality. Do they like hanging out with kids? Do they enjoy chasing the cat? How long of a walk do they need? These are questions you’ll have answers to, especially if they come from a rescue where they have been fostered. These things are mysteries when you adopt a puppy since they haven’t matured or have been trained.

You’ll also have an idea of their overall health. Not that senior dogs don’t develop issues later in life, but if they have arthritis, you’ll know. Do they have allergies? Someone has already crossed the bridge of finding the perfect food.

They also will have their adult coat, so you’ll know exactly what is required for grooming purposes. How often do they need to be groomed? Do they mat under their legs? Again, someone already knows the answers to these questions, so you’ll know what to expect and how to budget.

They are usually trained. 

Senior pets have normally spent some time in their life living with a family in a home.  This means that they often are potty trained. Sure, you’ll have to get the dog into a routine, but it will not take as long as starting from scratch with a puppy. Trust me on this one.

They have also grown out of their puppy habits. They won’t be as prone to chew on a pair of shoes or a wall, and yes… I’ve had a puppy that ate the plaster off the corner of the wall. If you’ve ever had a puppy, remember the “bitey” stage? Yep, seniors aren’t interested in that. Been there, done that.

Lower Energy 

Exercise is good for senior dogs. As they say, “motion is lotion” for their joints, but they don’t need to be worked out like puppies or younger dogs. They are usually content napping on the couch after their morning walk while they wait for dinner. 

That doesn’t mean senior dogs don’t present challenges. 

They may need a longer adjustment period. While the adage “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks” is untrue, it still may take a little longer to adjust to your family. Separation anxiety is real since they’ve already experienced being left behind. You’ll need to be prepared with calming aids and patience.

As stated before, you’ll know their health challenges and with those come extra costs. Arthritis is normal in older dogs, and you may need to give them medication or supplements. Just like with adults, the older you get, the more expensive care tends to be, so make sure you are prepared to handle those expenses. 

Remember when we talked about a lower activity level? Well that means if you’re looking for a running partner, a senior dog may not be an ideal candidate. That doesn’t mean all senior dogs like to nap all day – far from it – but you may not have your running partner as long as you would a younger pet. 

Finally, older dogs can be overstimulated easily. This means a home with children or younger dogs may not be a great fit. That doesn’t mean they won’t. I adopted a senior chihuahua that ruled the house after a couple of weeks, and he was happiest snuggling with the youngest members of my family. That being said, this isn’t always the case. The good news is you’ll already know that since someone has already spent time with this dog and normally foster parents have multiple pets and children. 

I can honestly say that adopting a senior dog was one of the most wonderful things I’ve ever done. The oldest I ever adopted was around 9-years-young. I didn’t expect to have him a long period of time, but I was determined to make his remaining days comfortable and happy. He stayed with me for another 9 years and I wouldn’t trade those days for anything. He was an amazing dog with a hilarious personality. 

I miss him. 

And that’s the hardest thing about adopting a senior. Even with that, it is worth it and if you open your heart to a senior pet, you won’t be sorry.