Just over a year ago I adopted Wilson, a senior rescue dog from the charity All Dogs Matter. I’d been thinking about getting a dog for a while and as I used to walk for the RSPCA I knew I wanted a pup who was a little on the older side with a ailment or two and who may not have found a home otherwise.
Everyone wants a cute little puppy which often means the OAP’s get left behind, but after a year of Wilson being part of my little family he’d brought so much joy and I would recommend adopting an oldie to anyone. Life with an older dog who can’t hear, see or sometimes walk that well comes with it’s adjustments, so I’ve put together a list of things that may help if you’r thinking of adopting an older dog.
1. Keep To A Routine
This is true with any dog but especially for an older pup who suffers or is starting to suffer from doggy dementia. They may not always remember where the back door is when they need the toilet or even what to do when food is put down, but by having a set routine for toilet breaks, walks and feeding it can really help them feel a little less lost.
2. Don’t Be Afraid To Use Nappies
Sometimes in their old age (like many people) dogs can become incontinent, especially at night time and this is something if you’re thinking about adopting an oldie that you need to think about. There will be accidents, that’s pretty much a given, but you can minimise them with the use of doggy nappies or a belly band. We at first tried with nappies but they didn’t stay on very well and were incredibly expensive, so in the end I decided to get Wilson a belly band – a soft material strip that velcro’s around his belly and *ahem* man parts, and with the help of a Tena Lady catches any accidents while he sleeps! Before we discovered the belly band and nappies Wilson would sometimes get quite distressed after accidents, and lets be honest – would you want to sleep in a wet bed?
3. Buy Nutritious Food Aimed At Their Age Group And Any Intolerances
Wilson has a very sensitive tummy which has caused us some grief over the past year I’m not going to lie! But we’ve now, after a lot of experimenting, found him food that suits his needs and that he actually really loves! We use Royal Canine Gastro Intestinal Vetinary food which we buy online, and although it’s around £15 per kilo bag (we’re currently trying to fatten him up right now with 170g a day) he loves it and wolfs down his portion every day. Don’t get disheartened if the food you’re buying doesn’t work straight away, it’s trial and error – and Wilson still enjoys the occasional home made treat every now and again!
4. Find Stimulating Toys With Orange and Blue Colouring
Dogs are colour-blind and Wilson is fighting cataracts as well so sometimes he struggles to see a lot of things around him. I recently learned that Orange and Blue are the best colours for dogs as they can distinguish them a bit better and since we swapped Wilson’s toys to those colours he’s been having a whale of a time chasing his tennis balls around now he can finally see them! Try for different textures and shapes to keep them interested and if they’re not deaf as a post like Wilson I’m sure a squeaker would go down well too! Thy might not play for hours like a puppy would but they still enjoy one or two rolls of that treat ball!
5. Pick Up A Memory Foam Bed To Help Achey Limbs
Again, like us humans dog’s joints can get a little creaky in old age. Wilson struggles when he first gets up in the morning and after a walk so we recently invested in a memory foam bed from Pets at Home for his birthday! He loves it, and although it’s a little big for him we’ve noticed he’s really got a spring back in his steps now his achey bones are fully supported…especially as he spends most of his day napping by the radiator!
6. Try Not To Move Things Around Too Much
Wilson’s not totally blind yet, but he’s getting there. So keeping furniture in the same place and making sure not to move his bowls or bed too much really helps him navigate his way around. He still bumps into things from time to time but keeping everything in the same place will help to minimise collisions and any little bumps that may happen.
7. Invest In A Carpet Cleaner
Going back to a previous point – there will be accidents and we’ve tried everything to save our carpet. I recently reviewed the Bissell Cleanview Reach Carpet Cleaner (which you can see here) and it’s honestly been a godsend! If you have carpets in your house and you’re thinking about adopting an oldie – or any dog for that matter – you need one of these in your arsenal. You’ll thank me later!
8. Insure, Insure, Insure
It can be hard to find insurance that will cover oldies sometimes but we’ve had Wilson covered since the day we brought him home. It’s so important to insure you’re pup but even more so when they’re a bit older as a lot can go wrong. Yes it’s expensive but having insurance saved us nearly £1,000 when Wilson ate a packet of chewing gum out of my handbag on the side and had to be rushed to the vets last year. Well worth the £20 a month.
9. Always Have Patience and Understanding
Having a dog of any age is wonderful – they get so excited to see you, they want to be near you and cuddle all the time and they love you unconditionally but sometimes it can be a little frustrating when they don’t listen or when accidents happen. Be patient and try to understand their behaviour as a dog, not a furry human and most of all appreciate that some things may take time. An old dog can learn new tricks and they’ll give you the most love in the world in return for a warm and happy place to spend their twilight years.
What are your top tips for adopting an older dog?