If I adopt an oldie, what about the vet bills?
Like all dogs, some oldies are healthy, some have minor ongoing problems, and some will have accidents. They are more likely to need help with arthritis, but perhaps less likely than a younger dog to need treatment for wounds or broken limbs as they are less likely to recklessly hurtle about the place!
You may want to consider getting pet insurance.
Rescues sometimes offer help with medical care for dogs that have existing conditions.
The Blue Cross have a helpful guide to caring for older dogs.
The Dogs Trust have two foster schemes for older dogs.
1) Part-foster for dogs with medical conditions. Dogs Trust will pay for treatment for that condition only.
2) Full-foster for older dogs where we will pay for all veterinary treatment for that dog. There are no definite guidelines for becoming a foster dog and each dog is considered on an individual basis. Therefore it cannot be assumed that every dog over 7 will be a full-foster dog, some dogs may not become foster dogs until they are 10 or 11 due to their breed.
Can I get pet insurance for an old dog?
Although some companies will not insure older dogs, plenty will. Try Marks and Spencer, More Than, Sainsbury and Pet Plan. Many rescues will give you a 6-week free insurance policy with any dog you adopt from them, which you can then simply continue.
Will an oldie fit with my kids?
Young families often go out and get puppies because they think young kids get on well with young dogs. This isn’t always the case. If you have a young family to deal with, a young dog’s training and exercise needs may be quite a strain. Older dogs usually already have the basic training and tend to be calmer and more reliable than younger dogs. Many of them can still do a good long walk and enjoy it.
However, we would recommend an older dog who has already had experience of living with children, rather than one that is new to family life.
How much exercise do oldies need?
This depends very much on the dogs breed, character and health. Some are just looking for a quiet cushion and a cuddle for their retirement. A trot down the garden and back will be more than enough for them.
Others are still full of bounce and will happily join you for a longer walk or a game of ball. They still tend to need much less effort and attention than a younger dog though, because they usually already understand about coming when they are called, house training, chewing and so on.
If I adopt an oldie, will it be neutered or spayed?
Many oldies will have been neutered or spayed as young dogs, so there are no issues there.
Even if your dog came into a rescue ‘entire’ as an older dog, normally rescues neuter or spay older dogs before homing them, to protect the dogs from lethal diseases such as testicular cancer, ovarian cancer and pyometra. These diseases are are particularly likely to strike dogs as they age, and are very serious indeed. The risks of neutering or spaying an older dog are low now, with modern anaesthetics and proper aftercare, and greatly improve long term health prospects for most dogs. Even setting aside the more serious problems, neutering is often recommended for the prostate and cystitis problems that can trouble older dogs.
The only exception to this is likely to be if you adopt an older dog with serious health problems, such as a bad heart murmur, but this is unusual. Sometimes an oldie will come in in poor condition: in this situation the dog is usually not spayed or neutered straight away, but is given time to gain strength first.
I’d like to get an oldie, but it would be just too sad when it died
Well, there are lots of younger dogs in rescues too, and they also need homes.
But consider this: a young dog could still have a heart attack tomorrow. A puppy from a bad commercial breeder may have genetic problems that mean its likely lifespan is no longer than that of a healthy older dog.
Oldies are mostly dogs that have lived as pets for years: then there is a death or a divorce, and a dog that has lived in a home for 8 years or more is now sitting confused and miserable in a rescue kennel. Now that’s really sad.
I can’t adopt a dog right now – how else can I help?
You can Volunteer to help the Oldies Club and help by putting up posters, fostering, transporting, or homechecking.
You can make a Paypal donation (top right button on every page!) or make a regular donation by Standing Order.