Why should I adopt a senior Labrador?
1. Older dogs are housetrained. You won’t have to go through the difficult stage(s) of teaching a puppy house manners and mopping/cleaning up after accidents.
2. Older dogs are not teething puppies, and won’t chew your shoes and furniture while growing up.
3. Older dogs can focus well because they’ve mellowed. Therefore, they learn quickly.
4. Older dogs have already learned what “no” means.
5. Older dogs settle in easily, because they’ve learned what it takes to get along with others and to become part of a pack.
6. Older dogs are good at giving love, once they get into their new, loving home. They are grateful for the second chance they’ve been given.
7. What You See Is What You Get: Unlike puppies, older dogs have grown into their shape and personality. Puppies can grow up to be quite different from what they seemed at first.
8. Older dogs are instant companions — ready for hiking, car trips, and other things you like to do.
9. Older dogs leave you time for yourself, because they don’t make the kinds of demands on your time and attention that puppies and young dogs do.
10. Older dogs let you get a good night’s sleep because they’re accustomed to human schedules and don’t generally need nighttime feedings, comforting, or bathroom breaks.
Tips for Keeping the Senior Dog Healthy
- Have a good relationship with your vet.
- Annual Blood test screening or geriatric workup.
- Know the signs of aging. All dogs are individual and will age differently.
- Feed them proper nutrition. Many foods are made with the senior dog in mind. Check with your vet to see if a dietary supplement is right for your pet.
- As always, keep their weight in check. Just like in humans, being overweight can aggravate existing health problems like arthritis.
- Regular exercise is important. Adjust the level of activity with their changing abilities.
- Senior dogs love company but as they may tend to tire more quickly they will want more quiet time.
Signals to be alert for in the senior dog
- Loss of weight
- Loss of appetite
- Increase in appetite without weight gain
- Diarrhea or vomiting
- Increased thirst without a change in activity level
- Tiring more quickly
- Coughing and or panting excessively
- Difficulty in getting up from the floor, going up stairs or getting on the bed
- Vision/hearing loss
- Elimination accidents
Some of these are signs of a treatable condition that can be managed with proper care. Check with your vet.
Books to read with your senior dog
- Pinney, Chris C. Caring for your older dog. Pinney 1995.
- Wilcox, Bonnie and Chris Walkowicz. Old dogs, old friends: enjoying your older dog.
- Fields-Babineau, Miriam. Training older dogs.
- Berman, Kathleen. Caring for your older dog.
- Callahan, Jean and Anne Manning. Your older dog: a complete guide to helping your dog live a longer and healthier life. 2001
Also, see the Senior Dogs Project, a wonderfully informative website for and about senior dogs.