As people are becoming more aware of puppy mills and unethical breeding practices, the popularity of adopting instead of buying is growing each year. While most would-be pet owners look for puppies when visiting local shelters, some are taking a different approach.
Many couples and individuals are specifically looking for senior dogs. This is a trend that’s not only helping older dogs to find loving homes but it’s also aiding rescue shelters that often struggle to find homes for their resident senior dog populations. However, adopting an older dog is not just about doing a good deed. Most senior dogs make excellent pets and they usually have a calm demeanor.
Adopting an old dog is not without its challenges. They are much more prone to get sick or have pre-existing conditions. This usually means pet parents adopting them need to be prepared to spend money on dog drugs and supplements to combat health issues. That being said, not all elderly dogs are sick. In fact, most vets categorize dogs as “elderly” after they pass the age of seven, which means a lot of them are still highly active.
To help you on your way, the following are 11 pet care tips if you are looking to adopt a senior dog.
Conduct a Full Health Checkup
Take your elderly pet to a vet for a full checkup. This will help you detect any hidden health issues and treat them early.
Keep an Eye on Age-Related Health Issues
Older dogs are prone to develop certain health problems such as arthritis, cataract,deafness, and others. Look for signs of these health issues and take appropriate medical action.
Learn About Breed-Specific Health Risks
Some dog breeds have high-risk of developing certain conditions. For example, German Shepherds can develop hip dysplasia after reaching a certain age. Cavalier King Charles spaniels, on the other hand, are prone to mitral valve disease, a heart disease.
Give Your Dog Some Quiet Time
While they love company, older dogs often crave for quiet and peace. Make sure to create a comfortable and quiet corner for the dog for afternoon naps.
Take Time to Introduce a New Diet
Thanks to budgetary constraints of rescue centers, shelter dogs often have to survive on cheap dog food. When transitioning from a poor-quality diet to a nutritionally dense diet, we suggest taking it slow. Slowly increase the amount of high-quality pet food while decreasing the amount of cheap kibble. This will keep stomach upsets at bay.
Give Your Dog Time to Adjust
Newly adopted dogs take to adjust to new surroundings. Give them ample time to get familiar with the new environment.
Consult the Vet Before Starting Preventives
Preventives such as joint support supplements are must for elderly pets. While joint support pills are relatively safe, consult the vet before picking a tick and flea preventive. Mainly because, a lot of them contain harsh toxins and can have negative health effects on old dogs. Your vet is also the right person to guide you about the perfect dewormer for your elderly dog.
Consider Setting Up Ramps
Some older dogs have trouble getting up and down from beds and sofas. If you want to give your dog access to the sofa and bed, consider setting up ramps.
Brief the Kids
Young kids often are too rough when playing with dogs. While younger dogs can take it, elderly dogs may react undesirably. Brief the children before you allow them to interact with the dog so that playtime doesn’t inadvertently turn into a torture session for your elderly pet.
Clip Their Nails at Frequent Intervals
Older dogs tend to grow nails faster and if left unclipped, these can hinder movement and cause pain. Thanks to the limited movement of elderly dogs, nails also don’t get naturally worn down as quickly as they do with younger dogs. Clip your dog’s nails frequently and avoid cutting too deep to prevent bleeding.
Train them to Respond to Hand Gestures
Elderly dogs often have trouble with hearing. This is why it’s best to train them using hand signals. Even if your dog has perfect hearing, it’s best to train them this way so that they can respond to basic commands even when their hearing grows weak.