Adopting Senior Dogs & Cats-Dr. Jim Lowe

Posted by Tomlyn on Nov 11th 2015

Want to go beyond the standard adoption?  Consider opening your home and your heart to an older dog or cat.

  1.  But their life expectancy is limited?

Yes, so you have an opportunity to ensure the last part of this animal’s life is safe, secure, and filled with care.

  1. Many of them will have special needs?

Exactly, and by adopting you commit to this animal’s care when it is needed most.

  1. They aren’t puppies or kittens.

Obviously, and most likely do not have those habits of destruction, excessive vocalization, “accidents” in the house, and undiscovered behavioral concerns.


Geriatric dogs and cats may suffer from age-related vision or hearing loss.  With consistency in the arrangement of household furniture, even completely blind animals can navigate safely throughout the home.  Remind visitors (especially young ones) of these diminished senses when approaching your pet so as not to startle them and elicit a negative response from fear.

One should consider additional padded bedding as these animals may suffer from musculoskeletal discomfort.  Take this discomfort into consideration when placing food and water bowels so as not to put these items extended lengths away from their favorite spot to rest.

In addition to a senior-formulated diet, other nutritional concerns exist.  High levels of omega 3 fatty acids (fish oils) can be anti-inflammatory in nature and may support brain health.  Vitamin supplementation with antioxidants can be discussed with your veterinarian.  Adequate caloric intake is critical and can be provided with highly palatable gels.

Many of these animals will have pre-existing medical conditions.  Be comfortable with frequent, regular medication administration as it is your responsibility.  Products are available as means of making administration of pills less stressful for owner and animal alike.  Check bedding frequently for soiling as older female dogs may develop incontinence.  Consider anxiety medications as older dogs may be more sensitive to changes in their environments and day-to-day challenges.  Natural products are available to provide such support. 

Discuss these and any other concerns you may have with your veterinarian and then step up…

and go beyond.