Senior Dog Adoption

Considering adopting a dog? How about senior dog adoption? Okay, you might not have thought about it, so let's think about it now. All of us will be seniors someday (if we're lucky!), and we will be a little slower, and we will probably have some ailments, aches, and pains we didn't have when we were younger. Perhaps our diet will be restricted; maybe we'll have some chronic pain from a sport's injury; perhaps we'll tire a little more easily; maybe we won't be quite as active as we once were.

So now a senior dog that's lived its whole life with a family, ends up in a shelter with no one to love. Maybe the family moved; maybe they couldn't give her the extra care she needs; maybe, tragically the dog's owner has passed away. Whatever the reason, there are senior dogs that need a good home. Senior dog adoption is critical. These dogs need to live their final years in comfort with a loving family. Maybe you're a senior, or maybe you have other pets, but have a little extra time and love to give to a deserving dog in its senior years. Senior dog adoption is needed. Don't give up on our seniors. We'll all be there someday.

A senior dog needs the right family to care for her. Can you be the foster parent until the right forever home is found? Or can you be the forever home and get involved in senior dogs' adoptions?

Normal Aging in Senior Dogs

As our pets age we expect them to experience changes.These changes may not be the same in each breed of dog. We can help our dogs age by diagnosing medical problems early and ensuring they are helped with proper nutrition and medication. They may need to go outside more often to relieve themselves. They may not want to run quite as much as they once did. Walks may need to be shorter. They may not be able to stand the cold weather as well as they used to. Perhaps they need a different diet or need more water. And as they age, they just might not be quite as peppy as they once were. Maybe they need a little help getting up stairs or into the car. So let's learn a little more about senior dogs so you can consider a senior dog adoption.

Our senior dogs that need adoption will have some challenges due to normal aging. We can deal with most of these with some simple changes in the dog's lifestyle, or can treat them with medication, if necessary. Simple diet changes can help as well. Following are some common problems in aging dogs.

  • Obesity is one of the main health problems of older dogs. Their metabolism slows and they exercise less; they need less food.
  • Just as people may turn gray as they age, so may older dogs. You'll notice this most commonly occurs on the muzzle and around the eyes.
  • Dogs' hair may become thinner, as with people! Their skin may thin and become more susceptible to injury.
  • Their nails can become more brittle, and because they don't exercise as much, their nails may need to be trimmed more as they are less likely to wear them down through activity.
  • Arthritis is a common occurrence in older dogs, especially large breed dogs. Arthritis in dogs is similar to that in humans; it may cause only a slight stiffness, or it can become debilitating. Stairs will be harder to negotiate.
  • Dental disease is the most common change we see in older dogs.
  • As dogs age, the movement of food through their digestive tracts slows. This can result in constipation. Constipation is more common in dogs who may experience pain while defecating such as those with hip dysplasia.
  • As a dog ages, the immune system does not function as effectively and the older dog is more prone to develop infectious diseases; make sure you keep your senior dog current on vaccinations.
  • As a dog's heart ages, it loses some efficiency and can not pump as much blood in a given amount of time. Medication is available and can often control this.
  • Lung efficiency decreases.
  • Decrease in kidney and liver and function may occur.
  • Some older dogs who have been house trained for years, may start having 'accidents.' My wonderful cat who lived to 18 and a half years, who never had an accident, could not control his bladder or bowel function during his last days. You have to expect this and deal with it without getting upset with your pet. It's not fun for you, but your pet doesn't want to soil himself. Clean up and move on.
  • Some senior dogs develop multiple benign tumors of the skin, which are generally not removed unless they are causing an inordinate number of problems or pain.
  • Older dogs have a decreased ability to cope with stress. Resulting behavior may include separation anxiety, aggression, noise phobias, and increased vocalization. It is best not to bring a puppy into the house. It is usually best to get a new puppy when the senior dog is still mobile enough to get away from the puppy and has the patience to deal with a young pup's activities.
  • As dogs age, their ability to regulate their body temperature decreases. Be careful that they are kept warm in cold weather - a few more blankets in their bed and less time outside. Also they may need to be indoors on hot summer days.
  • Some dogs will experience hearing loss as they age. Use of hand signals when training early on can be helpful as your dog ages.
  • Changes in eye appearance may be a sign of disease; older dogs may lose their vision. There is good news though, dogs can adapt to vision loss, although it will be more difficult in an older dog.

It's important to be aware of changes in a senior dog's activity level and behavior as they age. Don't assume that it's simply due to aging as it may be a sign of a more serious disease.

Is senior dog adoption sounding any more appealing? How can you look into the eyes of a beautiful older dog who no longer has a family and not take her home?!

What can we do to help our senior dogs age?

  • Keep an eye out for changes as your dog ages, be sure to keep his vaccinations current, and have him see his vet for regular check-ups. Some diseases caught early can be controlled with medication.
  • You may need to provide your dog a ramps to get into the car or up stairs.
  • Your senior dog may need to change as his diet as his nutritional needs will be different.
  • Trim nails more frequently.
  • Provide an orthopedic bed to make a dog who is experiencing pain due to arthritis more comfortable.
  • Laxatives or diets containing increased fiber may be prescribed to help with constipation. Always make sure you see a veterinarian if your dog is having problems urinating or defecating.
  • As important as it is for a young dog to always have water available, make double sure your senior dog always has fresh water.
  • Swimming and several short walks a day may help your dog maintain and strengthen his muscles.
  • Keep your dog's teeth clean with regular brushing; start this at an early age; young dogs need good dental care too.

Behavior Changes in Senior Dogs

Separation Anxiety

  • Did you know that as dogs age they may experience separation anxiety? Remember, they are less able to deal with change so your leaving may cause them distress.
  • To help with this, do not make a big deal about leaving as it will only reinforce the behavior. Associate your departure with something good. As you leave, give your dog a favorite treat.


  • Older dogs may become aggressive for several reasons, a medical problem such as one causing pain (arthritis or dental disease), vision or hearing loss, which results in the dog being easily startled, lack of mobility so the dog can not remove himself from the irritating stimulus (e.g.; an obnoxious puppy).


  • A once housebroken dog may now soil indoors. This could be due to an illness that can be treated, or your dog may need to go out more frequently. You'll need to have your dog checked by a vet.

Noise phobias

  • Some older dogs become overly sensitive to noise. Figuring out what particular noise is bothering your dog is the first step. Perhaps you can remove the annoying noise. See a veterinarian for a diagnosis if your dog is suffering more than what seems normal.


  • In an older dog stress may translate itself into increased barking, whining, or howling. Rather than giving him additional attention by responding to him, try to ignore the behavior.

Cognitive dysfunction

  • According to Pfizer Pharmaceutical, 62% of dogs age 10 years and older will experience at least some form of canine cognitive dysfunction (CCD), including disorientation, change in sleep patterns, decreased attentiveness, or not recognizing friends or family members.

I think I've talked myself into senior dog adoption! Our senior dogs need our help. I keep thinking about an aging dog, alone, feeling a little disoriented, feeling some aches and pains. The more I think about it, the more I think what a could idea it would be.
As with humans, dogs will experience health and behavior changes as they age. Being aware of the possible changes will help you help a senior dog deal with these changes. You'll need a little more patience and understanding, but doesn't a loyal dog deserve that, despite his ailments?

If you find that senior dog adoption might not be quite right for you, but you want to help, how about being a foster? If you have a the time and patience, perhaps you can be the dog's savior. After all, we will all experience unwanted and unfavorable changes as we age. Don't our loyal pets deserve a warm and loving home to live out their final years?

Senior dog adoption: We all need to be advocates for our aging dogs. We can't let them live their final days alone. It's just not right. Let's open our hearts and our homes to care for these special dogs.

Why Senior Dog Adoption?

senior dog

Still not convinced about senior dog adoption? Still asking yourself after reading about some of the ailments senior dogs may experience, "Why should I foster or adopt a senior dog?"

Let's list some reasons:

  • Senior dogs are more settled, requiring only moderate exercise.
  • Although a senior dog doesn't require as much exercise as a younger dog, they need enough so it helps an older person remain active.
  • Senior dogs have already been trained, including potty-training.
  • Having a pet generally means a happier, healthier life for an older person.
  • Dogs are therapeutic. Studies have shown that heart attack patients with dogs were more likely to survive beyond the first year than those without dogs.
  • A senior dog is a good companion for an older person who lives alone, giving the senior person a reason to get up and get going every day.
  • A senior dog needs you. What better feeling is there than that of feeling needed?

Won't you give senior dog adoption a chance? There are even some organizations that offer discounts for senior people who adopt senior dogs.

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