Old, New Friends: Tips for Adopting a Senior Dog
Love comes in all shapes, sizes, and ages. While some people may plan to adopt a puppy, there are plenty of great reasons to welcome a senior dog into your home. A new family member is always an exciting occasion, but there are some big differences between bringing a mature pooch into your home instead of a young pup. Here are some tips to help you prepare for adopting an older dog.
Senior Dogs Adjust at Their Own Pace
Unlike puppies, senior dogs typically have established personalities and a grasp of many basic commands – not to mention housetraining. These traits can help limit the amount of time you’ll need to train or watch over your dog, but it doesn’t mean senior dogs won’t need some time to learn and adjust to their new home.
No matter the age, a new home is a huge transition for a dog. However, it’s common that senior dogs have often spent a time in another home before ending up at a shelter. There are several reasons why this can occur, including the death or relocation of a previous pet parent. No matter the reason, a senior dog may need more time to get used to a new home and family than an exuberant puppy.
It’s important to show your senior dog plenty of love and support, but you should also make sure that there’s a space where your dog can hide away for a bit if she gets overwhelmed. It’s common for older dogs to sleep a lot during the transition, so a dog bed, a crate, or a quiet space in a living room or bedroom can give them a safe place to retreat and adjust to their new home and family. Over time, your furry friend will be able to monitor her surroundings and integrate herself at her own pace.
Carefully Introduce Senior Dogs to Other Pets
Just because a dog is older doesn’t mean he has seniority in your home. If you have other dogs in your home, they can become territorial when you introduce your new furry friend to your family. This can be especially problematic for any older dogs that may not have the means to defend themselves as well against younger pups who may nip before they think.
To avoid any unwanted tension and aggression, you can take some steps to ease your new senior dog into your household. One of the main reasons why dogs can become territorial is because they’re not sure what’s going on when you bring a new friend home. Breaking the ice between your new furry family members can ease some of these concerns by giving them a way to learn more about each other in a more neutral setting. For a breakdown of the best way to introduce dogs to each other, check out Professional Animal Trainer Joel Silverman’s breakdown of how to welcome a new dog into your home.
Prepare for Your Senior Dog’s Physical Needs
Pet-proofing is a standard process for any person welcoming home a new dog. While you should make sure that you take the proper steps to pet-proof your home – securely close the trash, put cleaning supplies out of reach, etc. – it’s also important to pet-enable your home for older dogs.
While puppies are spry and energetic, senior dogs may not be quite as mobile as youthful pets. Older pooches may be more hesitant – or even unable – to traverse certain parts of your home. For example, a set of stairs or a slippery linoleum floor can be a difficult challenge for a dog who may deal with joint pain.
Fortunately, there are ways that you can mitigate the potential for discomfort and make your home more accessible. Try and limit the need for an older dog to use stairs or other problem areas. If your dog’s food and water bowls are downstairs or across a room with more slippery floors, consider moving them to a more pet-friendly area. If that doesn’t work, consider adding a few floor mats or other means that will make it an easier walk for your dog. If your dog is allowed on your bed at night, think about adding a pet ramp or something else to make it an easier jump.
Over the years, we all need a little help, so take some time to make everyday life easier on your dog’s body. In addition to preparing your home for an older dog, you may also want to consider using a product like Bil-Jac BreakThru® Joint Health Formula to help support healthy joint and immune functions that help your dog live a happy, healthy life.
Maintain Regular Exercise
While older dogs may not be as spry as they once were, that doesn’t mean you need to shy away from physical activity. It’s important that your dog exercises regularly to help her age gracefully.
Of course, an exercise session shouldn’t be too intense. Regular walks are a staple of any canine workout routine, but try not to take any journeys that are too long for comfort. A regular schedule of short walks can reduce wear and tear while physically and mentally stimulating your dog. Swimming is also a great option since it’s a low-impact way for your dog to exercise. Your dog may not be as fast or athletic as she used to, but regular exercise will help make sure that she stays active and healthy throughout her golden years.
Choose a Senior Dog Food
There is no one-style-fits-all solution for dog food. Our furry friends have special nutritional needs at certain ages, which means it’s important to cater their kibble to each individual dog. For older pooches, that means finding a senior dog food that’s formulated just for them.
Like other types of dog foods, senior dog food should have enough high-quality protein to help your dog maintain healthy muscles even as she gets older. However, there are other important characteristics that you should look for to make mealtime a great time for your dog.
For example, Bil-Jac Senior Select and Bil-Jac Small Breed Senior contain less fat than our Adult Select Formula to help prevent weight gain that can occur when an older dog becomes less active. Dental issues are also a potential problem for older dogs, so Bil-Jac Senior recipes are easy to chew and packed with flavor to make dinner delicious and chewable.
A New Old Friend
When it comes to adding a new member to your family, age is just a number. A senior dog will have plenty of love to give to the right family – it can just take a little preparation to properly support an older furry friend.
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