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As your dog enters his senior year, you may wonder, “Does my senior dog need a companion?” This question becomes increasingly relevant as dogs age and their needs evolve.
Let’s look into the potential benefits of introducing a companion for your senior dog, shedding light on the factors to consider and the positive impact it can have on their overall well-being.
Honey, along with her owner, is here today to assist you in making the best choice for your older dog during their mature years. Wondering, ‘Does my senior dog need a companion?’ Let’s navigate through the options together.
“My owners got me a younger companion a couple of years ago. It’s really changed my life for the better, but there are some things to think about before you go ahead with the introduction.”
Socialization is a crucial aspect of a dog’s overall well-being, regardless of age. As our canine companions enter their senior years, you may find yourself asking: does my senior dog need a companion for socialization?
“Socialization is so important for dogs of all ages, including senior dogs! Having a friend in the house will help to keep us socialized. Socializing improves our mental health by boosting our mood and reducing the fear and anxiety that can sometimes result from age-related health conditions.”
Speaking of canine health conditions that come with age, keeping an older dog mentally stimulated is important. This reduces the risk of conditions like Canine Cognitive Dysfunction or dog dementia.
“Having someone to interact with stops me from getting bored and means my brain is working much more than it would if I didn’t have someone to play with!”
“Does my senior dog need a companion and would it benefit from having one for physical activities?”
Honey prefers sitting around and eating treats to getting her daily steps in, but I’ve noticed that having a friend at home encourages her to get more exercise.
“How rude! You’re probably right, though – I do get more exercise now that I have a companion.”
Exercise for senior dogs is so important for mobility as well as mental health, so this is a major benefit!
“Does my senior dog need a companion and in what ways can it contribute to the overall well-being of my canine friend?”
“It’s not always fun getting older, but having a friend to cuddle up with while my owner is at work makes me feel a lot better.”
“Does my senior dog need a companion?” Exploring whether a companion is beneficial for your senior dog involves considerations beyond mere companionship.
So, from what Honey’s told us, there are many physical and emotional wellness benefits to getting a companion for your senior dog.
But wait! Before you go out and adopt a new pup, consider the following things:
“I might be over 12 years old now, but I’m still healthy and young at heart! That’s one thing my owner considered before getting me a younger friend.”
That’s right. For example, if Honey had dementia as a result of aging, introducing a new dog could have been very frightening for her.
“Does my senior dog need a companion and should I consider breed compatibility?”
Certain breeds might be too much if you’re considering getting a puppy as a companion for your senior dog. Labradors, for example, can be too energetic and may overwhelm an older dog.
“Before my owner got another dog to keep me company, she made sure she had enough time and resources to look after us both.”
Exactly. It can be very tempting to introduce a new dog to the household straight away when you feel your canine companion needs a friend. First, though, you should make sure you have enough:
“When my new friend first came to live with us, she needed some training due to her age. We also both needed to be supervised to make sure we were both getting along.”
That’s right, Honey. Training isn’t cheap, and I had to arrange to work from home for a while, so I could keep an eye on things as the dogs got used to each other.
“Because my owner is responsible, I’m up-to-date on all my vaccinations! Yay! Health checks and vaccines are really important when getting a companion for your senior dog because there are health risks involved in bringing home another dog.”
That’s true. Canine distemper, canine flu, parvovirus, and parasites are all examples of contagious health conditions dogs can catch from each other.
Most of these can be prevented with vaccinations, so ensure both dogs have a health checkup and get their shots before introducing them.
Does my senior dog need a companion and what potential behavioral benefits could it provide for my aging canine friend?
Sometimes, introducing a new dog to your household might trigger behavioral issues in one or both dogs. Initially, introductions can be stressful, so you might see behaviors like:
“Try to be patient with your senior dog and their new friend during introductions! Behavioral problems could be temporary results of stress and anxiety.”
There’s no getting around the fact that bringing home a new companion for your senior dog is expensive. You will need to be prepared to pay for extra food, vet appointments, training sessions, grooming, and other miscellaneous expenses.
“Pet insurance can help to keep the cost of your dogs’ medical treatment manageable!”
Even once you’ve decided that getting a companion for your senior dog is the right decision, there is still work to do, including:
“Something that helped me in the lead-up to meeting my new friend was having a calm environment and no disruptions in my routine. This meant I felt secure and comfortable in my territory when my companion arrived!”
When I introduced Honey to her new companion, I made sure to do so in a neutral location. We chose the local park. This meant that Honey could get to know her friend without feeling territorial.
“My owner also kept us both on leashes when we first met. We got along well straight away, but it’s important to take these precautions so that nobody gets hurt.”
Even after the first meeting, I made sure to keep supervising Honey and her new friend. I kept a baby gate between them for a few days, so they could be around each other safely.
I also kept a close eye on their body language and only let them around one another freely once I was sure there were no signs of aggression.
“If you notice your dogs staring at one another, posturing, or growling, it’s time to call an end to the interaction and try again later!”
I also made sure to give each dog their own toys, which was especially important for Honey. Because of her age, she is set in her ways and can get a little territorial over her belongings.
Some dog breeds famously get along better than others. Certain breeds, like Chihuahuas and Pomeranians, are difficult to socialize with other dogs. Try to choose a breed that enjoys socializing with others.
“Because my new companion is nearly the same size as me, we don’t have a problem with one of us being more of a physical threat to the other. Try to keep things as balanced as possible from this perspective.”
“My new friend is usually calm but has a bit more energy, and I love that! She keeps me on my toes and encourages me to go outside and experience life to the fullest. Always consider your dog’s own unique personality and try to match it in your choice of companion!”
Getting a younger dog can be a good way to keep a senior dog mentally stimulated and playful. However, introducing a rambunctious, untrained puppy is rarely a good idea, as this might stress out and overwhelm your older dog.
Your new dog should ideally be healthy and up-to-date on their shots to make your life easier and prevent any risk of disease spreading.
If you find yourself wondering, ‘Does my senior dog need a companion?’ and you’re unsure about introducing a new canine friend to your household, here are some alternatives:
“I’ve been to doggie daycare before, and it was so much fun! I got to play with lots of new friends and go home to my comfy bed at the end of the day. There’s also boarding for the long-term.”
Neither of these options is cheap, but they’re great ways to socialize your senior dog if you’re worried about them getting lonely.
Cheaper alternatives to doggie daycare or boarding include pet sitting and dog walking.
These still aren’t inexpensive, but you can pay someone to walk your dog or come and look after your pup at home so they don’t get anxious, restless, or under-stimulated.
Weigh all of your senior dog’s needs against the demands of bringing in a new puppy before making a final decision. You want your aging dog to enjoy his golden years to the fullest!
To answer the question, “does my senior dog need a companion?”, reflect on your dog’s well-being and happiness, and make the choice that best suits your furry friend.
Evie Randall is a talented writer at KnowMyDog.com who specializes in creating content that provides senior dog owners with the knowledge they need to take care of their furry friends. Her passion for dogs and her exceptional writing skills have enabled her to create engaging and informative articles that cover a wide range of topics related to senior dog care, from the importance of regular veterinary checkups to tips on managing age-related health issues.
Through her writing, Evie has helped to build a community of dog owners who rely on KnowMyDog.com for guidance and support in caring for their aging pets. Her dedication to providing high-quality content that is both informative and easy to understand has earned her a loyal following among dog owners, who appreciate her expertise and her ability to make complex topics accessible. Overall, Evie’s work at KnowMyDog.com has made a significant impact in the pet industry, and her commitment to helping senior dogs and their owners is sure to continue benefiting countless pets and their human companions for years to come.