Why You Should Adopt An Older Dog
By Allison Kuopus (Chicago, IL)
Adopting a dog is a huge decision with a multitude of factors. One of the biggest factors to consider is the age of the dog you’re going to adopt. While a lot of people will immediately think of puppies when they think of getting a dog, there are many benefits to adopting an older dog.
Dogs can be considered “senior” as young as seven years old. According to the ASPCA, less than half of older dogs get adopted than puppies and younger dogs. There are so many seniors sitting in shelters and rescues that have so much more life to live. Due to the large volume of animals in these shelters, many older animals face euthanasia if they don’t get adopted.
Although adopting a dog isn’t a decision to rush into, you could find yourself waiting a lot longer to adopt a puppy as they are usually the first to be adopted from shelters, leaving many older dogs to live out the majority of their lives in a shelter, some sadly never finding a forever home at all.
In addition to often being immediately available to adopt, there are loads of advantages to adopting an older dog.
Unlike puppies, older dogs’ personalities are fully formed, making their behavior and demeanor much more predictable. This allows you to choose a dog that is more suitable to your lifestyle and household, as you will have a clear idea of whether the dog gets along with other pets and whether it is better for a large family or a smaller household.
Behavior and Training
Unlike younger dogs, senior dogs often have had basic training, such as potty training and obeying simple commands.
If they still need some help learning the rules of your home, older dogs have a longer attention span and are easily trainable with a little patience. Turns out you can teach an old dog new tricks after all!
Since most adult dogs have spent time in someone else’s home or a shelter, they often will come with information about their background, including the situation they may have been rescued from, notes regarding their personality, and potentially even medical history.
Senior dogs generally have lower energy than younger dogs. For most, a few short walks a day will suffice, but some may surprise you! Ask the shelter or rescue plenty of questions to learn about each dog’s energy level. They should be able to advise you what type of exercise your new pup will need to thrive.
There won’t be any surprises, because they’re already full grown. Make sure you have enough space to keep your new best friend comfortable in your home.
You just saved their life! And they know it. Some people think bringing home an animal at a younger age leads to more bonding and affection, but seniors have just as much love to give. In fact, older animals may adjust even faster than younger dogs in their new home and are just as likely to fall in love with their new family.
As any animal ages it is possible that they could require more medical attention but it’s important to remember that a “senior” dog does not mean a sick dog. While there are plenty of animals with medical issues that would greatly benefit from your care as well, older is not synonymous with ill.
If you do decide to adopt a dog with a longer medical history, prepare yourself by asking about any existing medications and what sort of vet visits you can expect. Vet care typically increases as health issues start to pop up, including more frequent check-ups and bloodwork. It is worth looking into insurance options even for a senior pet. Many companies do have age caps but there are some who do not have age restrictions.
While you can’t predict everything, knowing about your dog’s potential future health expenses in advance can help prevent sticker shock later on. In the end, saving an older dog and giving them a loving home is priceless.
Are You Ready for the Rest of Their Life?
If you’re able to make an appointment for an in-person visit, we recommend trying to see animals of various ages. Once you meet them in person, your whole perspective may change.
There are also rescues that specialize in older animals who deserve to spend their final days smothered in more love than they’ve ever known.
The best advice when adopting a dog is to make sure you are fully prepared for who you are bringing into your family. It may take some dogs longer than others to fully acclimate to their new surroundings, regardless of age. Even though seniors can require some additional care, what you get back from them in the form of love and loyalty is beyond anything you could imagine. It feels so good to know that you are saving a life and giving a sweet, deserving animal a warm bed and a safe place to live out their golden years.