What to Expect When You Adopt an Older Rescue Dog

What to Expect When You Adopt an Older Rescue Dog

Health & Safety

There are hundreds of older dogs in animal rescue shelters all over the country and many of themdeserve being chosen by loving people so they can live out the rest of their lives in a warm and safe home environment. Dogs that reach a ripe old age and for whatever reason end up in a centre are considered to be in the senior years with many being thought of as geriatrics which means they are often overlooked by potential owners.

However, each dog is different and it depends on the breed and size of a dog when it comes to their senior years with a Great Dane reaching this when they are just 6 or 7 years old whereas a smaller Poodle would be twice that.

If you are thinking about adopting an older dog from a rescue centre, the rewards are tremendous because you will be bringing home a very grateful four-legged friend and although they might take a bit longer to settle in, your time and patience will be very well rewarded. With this said, there are a lot of things to take into consideration which includes any health issues that come hand-in-hand with old age.

The good news is the rescue centre will be able to let you know about any existing health issues a dog might be suffering from and they may even be prepared to pay for any ongoing treatment and medication the dog would need to be given to manage a condition. This is something you would need to discuss with the rescue centre and the vet you register your canine friend with.

Health Issues To Watch Out For

One condition that's all too often overlooked especially as dogs get older and move around a lot less , is obesity. Because older dogs tend to get less exercise, it's important to feed them accordingly so they don't put on any unhealthy extra pounds!

It's also important to feed older dogs good quality food that contains all the nutrients they need to suit their senior years. This might mean supplementing their diet with a few things to help their old and aching joints.


Older dogs are prone to suffer from a condition known as hypothyroidism and if they do develop it, this is one reason why they may slow down. Vets can easily diagnose the condition which they follow up with the right sort of ongoing treatment.


Many older dogs may suffer from diabetes which, much like in humans, needs to be managed on an ongoing basis. In short, if you adopt an older dog from a rescue centre and they have diabetes, the chances are you may not have to pay for any medical treatment the dog needs as this would be paid for by the rescue centre, but you would need to check this out with the centre first. Diabetes often rears its ugly head in overweight dogs which is why it's so important to keep an eye on your pet's weight.

Problems With Eyesight

Just like us, a dog's vision tends to get worse as they age. People often confuse cloudy eyes with cataracts or that a dog is blind, but really they are often suffering from an ocular issue called lenticular sclerosis and unlike cataracts, the condition does not affect a dog's vision.

Problems With Hearing

Again, very much like in people when a dog gets old their hearing tends to get worse. The first sign of a problem is when you notice your dog gets startled by something because they have not heard it coming up on them. Sadly, there is not much you can do other than always keep a close eye on them making sure they can see you when you call them.

Cognitive Dysfunction

Older dogs also get a bit mixed up about things and often forget the basics, which means they might start having a few "accidents" in the house. If this happens, they should not be told of or punished because the chances are they are already quite upset about the fact they messed up.

However, there could be other reasons for incontinence in older dogs which could be due to a hormone imbalance. Unfortunately, neutered and spayed dogs are more prone to develop this type of problem because the organs responsible for producing these hormones have been taken out. Older dogs are often incontinent is because their sphincter no longer works as it once did and if they are on any sort of medication they might be drinking more water which means their bladders are full and they have problems holding it all in.


Adopting an old dog from a rescue centre is incredibly rewarding even though there may be a few health issues to think about which develop with the onset of old age. Very often, if a senior dog has a health disorder but they can still be rehomed, any ongoing vet bills are paid for which means it's not something you need to worry about.Offering a warm and loving home to a dog so they can live out the remainder of their lives is a wonderful thing to do and the one thing you can be sure of is that your new canine friend would be very, very grateful!

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