Why Foster a Senior Dog

There are good reasons to foster a senior dog. Senior dogs are usually scheduled for euthanasia shortly after arrival at an animal shelter. This is truly unfortunate and is by no means discriminatory just because of their age. The reality is that most animal shelters are full on a regular basis and since senior dogs are usually the last to be adopted, they are the first to be scheduled for euthanasia.

A typical animal shelter is a stressful environment for any dog but is especially hard on senior dogs who are less able to deal with this type of stress and they often become disoriented. Also, older dogs find it more difficult to fight diseases at their advanced age and animal shelters often harbor contagious diseases like kennel cough that are very easy to contract.

Senior dogs have a tendency to be less hopeful than younger dogs when they find themselves confined to a shelter and they may become depressed. A depressed dog does not look like a happy dog and most people searching for a dog to adopt won’t consider any dog that doesn’t look and act like it would be happy to have a new home. Most people who visit animal shelters are hoping to find a beautiful puppy or a young dog.

If you choose to foster a senior dog it will be important to help the dog maintain good emotional and physical health. This will make the dog more appealing to someone looking to adopt a dog. By providing a pleasant and supportive home environment while a dog is waiting for adoption increases the odds of finding a new home.

If you decide to foster a senior dog, you should be patient, compassionate, and committed to the dog’s well-being. You’ll need to be flexible and have a practical attitude if you really want to help a senior dog recover from the traumatic experience of being placed in a shelter. Your goal should be to prepare the dog for adjustment to a new home.

You shouldn’t foster a senior dog if you don’t have the time to care for it because you’re often away from home. Plan on caring and exercising the dog at least an hour every day. A senior dog will also want to spend significant time with you each day; time to play and time for you to show it love.

It shouldn’t be an important consideration if you’ve never fostered a dog. If this is the first time you’ve fostered a dog, the shelter will help you choose the right dog that will make the best companion for you during the fostering period.

Remember that during this fostering period you will be responsible for the dog’s food and other needs. Some animal shelters and most dog rescue organizations will pay for any needed medical care.

A leash and collar is often provided by the shelter or rescue organization. If you already have or can buy a comfortable dog bed, your senior dog will be quite happy. You can also use old blankets and towels to make a comfortable place for the dog to sleep.

A reasonable question to ask if you’ve never fostered a dog is, “How long will it take for a senior dog to be adopted?”

Since a lot of senior dogs are adopted by people who are seniors themselves, smaller dogs tend to be adopted more quickly than larger dogs.

Can You Afford a Dog?

Don’t consider adoption unless you can afford a dog. The cost of owning a dog is far more than just the expense of buying food for a pet.

Many people don’t take into consideration all the costs involved in adopting and raising a dog. The time to budget for a dog is before you get one. Financially providing for your dog is a big part of being a responsible dog owner so it’s important that you know in advance what you are getting into.

The cost of owning a dog is estimated to be anywhere between $700 to $3,000 per year. Contributing factors include your dog’s size and age, the area in which you live, what kind of lifestyle you live, and individual needs of the dog you want to bring into your life. These are important considerations when deciding if you can afford a dog as a pet.

Your Initial Investment
Any new dog or puppy will come with substantial expenses. If you decide to purchase a purebred dog from an established breeder, expect to spend $500 to $2,000, or possibly more depending on the rarity and popularity of the breed. Spending the extra money on a quality dog from a reputable and professional breeder will cost you less in the long run because the dog will be healthier and will be less susceptible to numerous diseases that may be genetically inbred and not show up until your pet has found a place in your heart; and by then you will probably feel morally obligated to spend whatever it costs to care for your beloved companion.

If you like the looks and personalities of mixed-breed dogs or “mutts” as they are sometimes called, and you want to help dogs in need, then choose your dog from the local animal shelter or a rescue group. Adopting from a shelter or rescue can cost as little as $50 to $200. Your chances of getting a healthy dog are much higher if you adopt from a reputable animal shelter or rescue group.

If you want a purebred dog, there are many breed-specific rescue groups that are easily found on the internet. Search under “rescue dogs”, “dogs for adoption”, “dogs for sale” (by state), “purebred dog rescue”, and “American Kennel Club breed rescue”. These are just a few of the search terms. Online you’ll find many sites offering rescued dogs for adoption.

Regardless of where you get your new dog, the first thing you should do is take your dog to a veterinarian. Depending on the need for vaccines, preventive medications and special treatments, that first visit will cost you anywhere from $50 to $300. Vet bills for a young puppy usually range from $100 to $300 depending on the puppy’s health and the area where you live.

Your next major expense and an important one in deciding if you can afford to adopt a dog, will be dog supplies. You’ll need lots and lots of dog food, a leash, collar, bed, toys and so on. You may also want to send your dog to obedience classes if you’re unable to do the necessary training yourself. The first year with your new dog can cost twice as much as the annual cost in subsequent years.

Feeding Your Dog
It’s important to feed your dog a high-quality dog food and healthy dog treats. This can cost anywhere from $20 to $60 per month ($250-$700 per year). Food expense varies based on the size and energy level of your dog. Obviously a Great Dane eats more than a Chihuahua, and a dog that snoozes all day long requires less food than an active one who’s bouncing around the house or yard all day.

Dog toys are an important part of your dog’s mental stimulation and exercise. Plan on spending $25 to $150 per year or higher depending on how you like to treat your dog and whether it likes to chew and rip up the toys you do provide.

Every dog deserves a cozy bed, and purchasing one for your pet will cost you $50 to $250. Pricing is consistent with the pricing in mattresses for humans – it costs more for larger sizes and for quality beds. A durable, high-quality and easy-to-clean dog bed will last longer and keep costs lower in the long run.

Leashes and Collars
Your dog must have at least one leash and one collar with ID tags. Depending on size and quality, most dog owners spend $20 to $50 on a leash and collar. Retractable leashes are very popular and allow for easier roaming and exploration by your dog when out on walks.

Your dog’s grooming needs are going to be based on the type of hair coat. Smooth coated, short-haired dogs require little more than basic grooming, while dogs with constantly growing hair like Golden Retrievers and Sheepdogs will need to visit the groomer on a regular basis. The cost of grooming visits will run you anywhere from $30 to $500 a year.

Routine Veterinary Care
Routine veterinary care is a major part of keeping your dog healthy. Plan on going to the vet for wellness check-ups once or twice a year. Budgeting is difficult if the need arises for emergency visits to the vet or unexpected illnesses for which you’ll have vet costs as well as medications or possible surgery costs. Vet costs will be higher if your dog develops any serious health problem. As your dog grows older you can also expect expenses to rise in conjunction with your dog’s advancing years.

Preventive Medications and Supplements
All dogs need medications to prevent heartworms, fleas, ticks and other parasites. Your veterinarian can recommend the best products based on your climate and your dog’s needs. Some dogs will also benefit from vitamins and supplements. In general, you will probably spend $100 to $300 per year for these items.

Obedience Classes
Though most dogs will only go to obedience school in their first year or two of life, training needs to be ongoing throughout your dog’s life. Whether you are buying books and DVDs for at-home training, or you enroll your dog in obedience classes, budget at least $25 to $300 per year for training needs.

Pet Sitters or Boarding
Most people will need to leave their dogs behind when taking a vacation outside the country or a long distance from home. This can cost $100 to $500 each time, depending on where you board your dog and for how long. Boarding usually costs less than hiring a pet sitter, but many dog owners prefer the individual attention a pet sitter offers and are willing to pay the added expense.

Emergencies and Other Unexpected Expenses
You cannot predict the future – the unexpected occurs in every life. Emergencies, chronic illnesses, natural disasters and other unplanned expenses can amount to hundreds or thousands of dollars per year. In a perfect world, dog owners would never have to make choices for their dogs based on money alone. You hope it will always be about what is best for your dog.

As you can see, owning a dog is a serious and potentially expensive proposition. Before adopting a dog that you will more than likely fall in love with, consider all the expenses listed above and be sure you will be up to the task of providing a loving and safe home for the pet that has caught your eye and stolen your heart.