For so many households, the idea of adopting a dog means looking for the cutest, fluffiest puppy we can find. Dogs of all ages deserve a kind, safe and loving home where they can thrive, and with puppies, we get the added bonus of being able to enjoy them at their cutest and watch them grow up over the years.
While there is certainly nothing wrong with wanting a puppy, you might want to consider opting for a senior dog instead. Not only do senior dogs also deserve a loving home and lots of attention, but they can actually be the better choice for many households. If you do choose to adopt a senior dog, it is important to be mindful of the unique needs that they have to support their aging bodies while in your care.
The Sad Truth About Senior Dogs
Senior dogs have about 25% chance of being adopted, and locally, most shelters see an even lower rate than that. This isn’t unexpected – most people see a dog as an investment, and an older dog may require a lot more care and attention while not having the same energy levels as many prospective dog owners want from a canine. But, the reality is that senior canines deserve to live out their last years with a happy family rather than alone in a cage.
Many senior dogs that you’ll find in shelters are those that have been surrendered by their owners for one reason or another. This can be heartbreaking for a devoted and loyal canine, who doesn’t know why they were no longer wanted. Imagine, for a moment, being a dog who has gone from living in a happy home to finding themselves abandoned and stuck in a noisy shelter without a whole lot of attention and care. Because senior dogs have such a low adoption rate, chances are that the ones that you see in a shelter are going to spend their last years confined in a cage without the comfort of a human who is devoted to their wellbeing.
What are the Benefits of Adopting an Aging Dog?
Besides the fact that adopting a senior dog gives them a happy, renewed sense of life, it can benefit you, the owner, in a surprising number of ways. In fact, there are households that would benefit more from a senior canine rather than a young canine.
Benefit #1: No Need to Train Them
Many senior dogs have been surrendered, which means that they were trained when they were younger. This means that you don’t have to teach them how to behave once they’re in your care. They already know how to be a good boy or girl without much coaxing required. This also, of course, means that they’re already housebroken, so you don’t need to worry about accidents in your home. One exception is a senior dog who has incontinence, which is something that you and your vet can come up with a solution for. Older dogs are also more likely to learn new tricks since they are often more attentive to their owners.
Benefit #2: A Milder Temperament
It is common for dogs to take on a milder temperament as they get older, and they “mellow out.” This can be great for pet owners who want a dog who’s calmer and far less likely to show signs of aggression and destructive behaviors. Calmer dogs are perfect for households that have younger children, as well as other pets.
Benefit #3: Less Play Required
Aging dogs do not have the same energy levels as puppies and young dogs, which means that they don’t require as much physical stimulation throughout the day. Of course, all dogs require physical activity and stimulation to be healthy and happy, but those with very busy schedules won’t feel as pressured to play with their senior canine around the clock.
Benefit #4: Older Dogs May Be More Loving Toward You
An older dog who has been surrendered and rescued again may form a deeper connection with their owner, because their gratitude toward you will be immense. This can lead to a more loving relationship between you and your dog, which only gets stronger with each passing year.
Senior Dogs and Special Needs
Now, while adopting an older dog comes with clear advantages, you will have to keep an eye out for certain ailments that affect seniors, pretty much as soon as they’re in your care. Here are some of the most common ailments that older dogs are prone to.
Ailment #1: Arthritis
Older dogs are prone to joint problems such as arthritis, due to wear and tear that slowly breaks down joint tissue. Canines who have arthritis may experience physical pain and a lack of mobility that makes it hard for them to play and get around the house easily. Arthritic dogs are also less likely to go up and down stairs in the home.
Ailment #2: Tremors
Older dogs can become prone to tremors of the legs, which are benign and a natural sign of reaching an advanced age. There does not need to be an underlying cause for this issue to occur, but if your dog is showing tremors, you should bring them to the vet to rule out more serious ailments like an infection, epilepsy or an injury.
Ailment #3: Dental Disease
It isn’t surprising that older dogs are more prone to dental disease. After all, dogs only have one set of teeth, and as time goes on, those teeth can develop all kinds of problems that progress over the years. Canines may have more cavities and signs of tooth decay as they get older, as well as gum disease, which can interfere with eating and chewing on their toys. If they are showing signs of dental disease, such as a lack of interest in food or pawing at their face, take them to a vet.
Ailment #4: Hearing or Vision Issues
Like humans, dogs are more prone to hearing and vision problems as they age, which means they may need a little extra help navigating your home. A veterinarian can help determine the extent to which the disability has occurred and help you figure out how to support you dog through this common age-related issue.
Ailment #5: Gastrointestinal Issues
Senior dogs may require special diets as their digestive systems aren’t as capable of breaking down certain ingredients. Their digestive system becomes less tolerant of heavy, rich or sugary foods as they get older, and may be more prone to bladder stones, kidney stones and constipation due to their diets. A vet can help recommend a new diet that will be gentler on your dog’s body.
Note: Best way to stay on top of any potential senior-related issues is to schedule a veterinarian appointment as soon as you can and bring them back for a physical examination regularly. This way, you can catch potential issues early enough to begin treating them quickly before they progress.
Would CBD Be a Possible Solution for Senior Dogs?
More veterinarians are recommending cannabidiol (CBD) to senior dogs, as well as dogs of all ages, thanks to a good amount of research done in recent years pertaining to the unique effects of this popular cannabinoid on dog’s bodies. Canines have an endocannabinoid system just like humans, which is why many of the effects we experience when taking CBD are also available to canines. CBD may have a role in regulating functions pertaining to the joints, the digestive system, and the nervous system, which can all require just a little extra help once dogs get older.
Give an Aging Dog a Second Chance in Life
So, if you’re interested in adopting and caring for a senior dog, you may want to talk to your veterinarian first about starting them on a CBD routine. At Chill Paws, we offer a wide array of dog-friendly formulas for all ages, which combine appropriate milligram strengths of hemp with ingredients known to be gentle on dogs’ bodies. Our CBD treats, tinctures, and topicals can all be administered daily to support your dog’s needs.