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Senior dogs are often overlooked at animal shelters. People want a younger dog because they think seniors come with too many troubles.
As much as we would love all rescued dogs to be adopted immediately, we know it's not how life works.
But when is a dog considered a senior? According to the American Animal Hospital Association's guidelines, a dog is deemed to be senior at 25% of the breed's expected lifespan. So, if your dog's breed has a predicted lifespan of 12 years, they are a senior about the age of nine (9).
Senior dogs should get to live their final years in a loving home that provides them the care, safety, and security they need. Unfortunately, many older dogs are abandoned at shelters once they start experiencing signs of age. And once in the animal shelter often become depressed and have a lower chance for adoption. A senior dog's adoption rate is only 25% compared to younger dogs' 60% adoption rate.
And it's that kind of information that Scott at Mission Driven thrives on. His mission is to take the shelter pets that are in the shelters the longest, are the oldest, or have a lot of quirks and showcase to the world just how amazing and special they are. He shares their story and highlights their best features, promotes them on social, and finds them loving homes.
Duke, the senior dog, was one of those lucky shelter pets.
Fostering can teach rescued dogs how to dogs in a loving home. And then they become more adoptable and can find the family they were meant to have.
Duke showed very little emotion at the shelter and spent most of the day in the back of his kennel facing the wall. Scott heard about Duke and went in to spend the afternoon with him. They bonded quickly. Scott came to see that he is calm, affectionate, and loves to be around loving people.
Duke didn't want Scott to leave. He spent the first eight years of his life in a loving home that was a lot quieter than a shelter. However, the loud, constant noises of shelter life and the sudden loss of his family had left Duke feeling sad and heartbroken. His life had been abruptly changed, and Duke was not handing his new temporary home very well.
Scott felt the pain of Duke and set to work posting on social about this special senior. And the community helped; over 2300 people shared Duke's story.
A day after the post had been shared, a family met Duke. They had seen the post on social and had fallen in love. His new family loves to adopt senior pets, and Duke was one of the lucky seniors. He now gets to spend the rest of his life in a loving home.
Adopting senior dogs is the best! Congratulations to Duke, his new wonderful family, and —as always—Scott, the miracle worker. — MARYANN B.
Adopting a senior dog may save its life. Older dogs usually come trained and understand basic commands. And they tend to be calmer and less energetic than younger dogs. They are great at teaching younger dogs in your home how to behave. And they make instant companions.
When you adopt a senior dog from a shelter, you learn more about them than you would a puppy. You get a history of their background, energy level, and how they might get along with other animals in your home. And since they are already full-grown, you don't have to wonder about their personality, grooming, or size. And knowing this is beneficial at ensuring you are getting a dog that fits your lifestyle!
Opting for adopting a senior dog could mean you spend less time on training and less time monitoring them from peeing or chewing on items in your home. They may take a little longer to adjust to their new environment. Still, they will typically be quiet and calm in that adjustment process.
And even though they are less energetic than puppies or younger dogs, they can still help keep you active. Older dogs still need walks and interaction, but they might not need the same amount of playtime as a younger dog would. They might be totally cool with a short walk around the block in the morning and evening and in between chilling out.
So if you are less active and want a dog, a senior might be the perfect fit!
But don't let their relaxed personality make you lazy, dogs no matter how young or old, need some playtime and some training time. Just like humans need their bodies and minds kept sharp as they age, so do dogs!
The senior dog could be healthy or need a lot of extra vet care, but when you adopt them, you learn their current medical history to know what to expect.
The hardest part of adopting a senior dog is that you might have another seven or more years with them, but it could also be shorter. It is definitely something you need to understand and accept when you adopt a senior.
Losing a pet is never easy.
It's essential to familiarize yourself with signs of common age-related health issues your senior dog may have.
Here are some examples:
You might see your vet more often too. When you adopt a senior, plan to see your vet every six (6) months for a checkup. Going twice a year instead of once a year could help detect illness early, which is key to successful treatment.
You might also need to consider some minor changes to their environment. For example, a senior pet with mobility issues might need their bed placed in a better spot, like downstairs instead of upstairs, or a raised feeding platform to make eating and drinking more comfortable.
Senior dogs are more prone to dehydration. So make sure your old dog has plenty of water, and if you throw in some ice cubes, they may be more likely to lap it up!
Senior dogs' diet also changes as they age. What worked for a puppy might not work for your senior. Like Hills Pet Nutrition, many dog food brands have food for senior dogs. Older dogs also require fewer calories and less fat. It's essential to keep your senior pet at a healthy weight so that their chance of medical problems doesn't increase. In addition, dogs with specific health problems may require particular ingredients.
If you decide to adopt a senior dog, it's helpful to talk with your vet to learn everything you can to keep your senior at its healthiest.
Senior dogs are ready to love and appreciate the love and home you're providing. So when you head to the animal shelter to find a new dog, don't overlook the older ones; they may just be the perfect fit.