Preparing to Adopt a Senior Dog
By Ainsley Lawrence
When you decide to rescue a dog, you’re also consenting to grow your heart a few sizes bigger. But when you decide to rescue a senior dog, you might find that your body is no longer big enough to hold your heart. Adopting a senior dog is a one in a lifetime experience. Your senior dog will know you’ve saved their life. In return, they’ll spend the rest of their lives saving yours.
However, just as with any new addition to the family, bringing a senior dog into your home takes some planning and preparation.
A Safe Environment
Odds are that your senior dog is likely going to face some mobility issues due to arthritis and other orthopedic conditions. That means that before you bring your new “baby” into your life, you’ll need to prepare your home for their comfort and safety.
For example, if you have wood or tile floors, your fur baby might have trouble with walking or slipping. Placing throw rugs with non-skid backing throughout the house can help them walk more comfortably and avoid slips and falls. You can even purchase traction booties to help your little one keep their footing wherever they may go.
Stairs and high places can also be a significant fall risk, making your senior pet vulnerable to severe injuries such as broken bones or head injuries. So make sure that you have safety barriers around these areas to prevent devastating falls.
Additionally, your senior pet is undoubtedly going to want to have lots of cuddle time with you, but they may have trouble jumping up onto furniture safely. Steps and ramps can make this easier, more comfortable, and far safer for your aged pet.
Your fur baby may also need other “lifestyle products” to help with their daily lives. For instance, elevated dog bowls can help with feeding and watering when your senior pet has issues with their cervical spine or other health conditions. Likewise, your little one may have trouble with incontinence, but puppy pads and even pet diapers can be a wonderful way to keep your baby comfortable while preventing accidents around the house.
As you’re setting up your space for your new baby, it’s also important to provide items that they will likely find comforting, such as soft beds and blankets. It’s a good bet that your senior dog has experienced some trauma from a variety of circumstances whether that be the death of their pet parent or a surrender from their previous owners. So you’ll want your pet’s first impression of their home to be one of love, comfort, and safety.
Planning for Medical Care
Not surprisingly, senior dogs will likely have more medical expenses than younger ones. For that reason, it may be worthwhile to look into pet insurance for your senior pet. Though premiums may be a bit higher, depending on the policy, it is still likely that your pet will qualify regardless of their age. Pet insurance can be a tremendous resource for ensuring your fur baby has the quality of care they need and deserve.
When you’re the parent of a senior pet, it’s also important to be able to differentiate between what is a normal part of the aging process and what is a sign of more significant trouble for your little one. You can do this by researching the common needs of senior pets before the actual adoption process. However, just like their love, their medical issues differ from dog to dog. Once you’ve settled in with your pet and learned a bit about what is normal for them, you will be better able to spot changes that you may need to alert your vet too.
In the beginning, though, it’s a good idea for your fur baby to have a thorough checkup to establish a primary vet and to find any problems that might have gone undetected.
You’ll also likely need to adopt a special diet tailored to the needs of geriatric dogs, and even research alternative therapies and supplements to enhance your dog’s quality of life. For example, if your little one has orthopedic pain or a low appetite, low doses of a supplement such as kratom can be highly beneficial. Such supplements, especially when used for pain relief, can be far safer, and have fewer side effects than traditional pharmaceuticals such as opioids.
Rescue dogs are always a blessing, but senior rescues are a miracle. Every senior dog has a story. They may have lost their human to death, or they may have even been abandoned. No matter what the cause, your senior dog has experienced loss, sadness, and fear— that is what you are rescuing them from when you bring them into your heart and home. Luckily, your fur baby knows it and will make it up to you in spades.
Ainsley Lawrence is a freelance writer that lives in the Northwest region of the United States. She has a particular interest in covering topics related to good health, balanced life, and better living through technology. When not writing, her free time is spent reading and researching to learn more about her cultural and environmental surroundings. You can follow her on Twitter @AinsleyLawrenc3