Ignore These Myths About Old Dogs

ignore these myths about old dogs

I love old dogs, I have a soft spot for them and foster/adopt them when I can. They didn’t ask to be dumped in their later years, and with puppies and young dogs barely making it out of most shelters alive, what chance do these more experienced pups have?

While it’s true there are many lovers of seniors out there, I don’t think it’s a leap to say most people have an attitude about them that is less than favourable. They hear “senior dog” and the image that flashes in their mind is of a feeble, frail, skinny old thing that can barely walk.

Of course in some cases that’s true, but that is hardly the norm. Have you seen some of those dogs running around lately? I have and if I didn’t know how old they were I couldn’t have guessed. They’re doing well and looking happy.

Senior is a number and not something upon which an entire being should be judged. A vital healthy active dog does not suddenly morph into someone on his last legs, the day the number on the calendar changes.

[bctt tweet=”Senior is a number and not something upon which an entire being should be judged.” username=”petcrusader”]

Medical advances

Advances in veterinary medicine both traditional and alternative, means longer and healthier lives for our furry companions. An otherwise life threatening condition does not have to mean the end, and a dog with painful arthritis, for example, does not have to be confined to his bed, unable to enjoy a walk in the fresh air.

Change your attitude people

Let’s take a look at some of the myths or misconceptions too many humans have regarding old dogs.

Myth 1

All changes are natural signs of aging

Wrong! I’ve heard this statement way too many times so I’m on a crusade to change that belief. Yes things, but not everything should be attributed to the natural aging process and ignored. I always encourage pet parents to take their dogs to the vet when they notice something “off” no matter how subtle it may be. Sometimes it’s nothing, and sometimes you’re lucky enough to have caught an issue early enough to treat or at least manage.  

Myth 2

Senior dogs only need yearly checkups

That would be incorrect. Seniors should see their vet twice a year, more often if necessary. Minor issues can become major problems more quickly in an older animal, so a thorough check up twice a year is a good idea to keep our pals healthy.

Myth 3

You can’t train an old dog

Of course you can train an old dog, why would you possibly think you can’t? It may be more difficult than training a puppy or younger dog, imagine years of running riot with no rules at all, but please don’t’ let that put you off. ignore these senior dog mythsDogs love a schedule and routine, combine that with a loving home, proper nutrition, physical exercise and mental stimulation and you will be amazed at how quickly they adapt to their new life.

Have patience, be consistent and get everyone in your household on board and you will have a lifelong, well behaved companion.

Myth 4

Nothing can be done about health issues

I can’t possibly understand why so many guardians believe nothing can be done for an older dog that is sick or just slowing down. They see their dogs struggle to get up or walk as “normal” and do nothing, which leads to considerable suffering for these animals.

For example…

Bad breath is a sign of dental disease, which left untreated can cause a variety of serious health issues, not to mention leave your dog in a lot of pain. A quick trip to the vet will determine what’s going on and dental surgery may be required. Problem solved or at least managed.

A dog that is stiff, having trouble walking or getting out of bed is likely experiencing some arthritis. I’ve heard too many people tell me there’s nothing they can do. Medications, alternative treatments and acupuncture are just a few ways to reduce pain.

Myth 5

You won’t have much time together

If you choose to open your home to a dog that needs hospice care than yes, it’s likely you won’t have much time together but how beautiful that time will be for both of you.

Here’s an example from my own life –I adopted Red when she was around 8. It’s now 7 ½ years later and she’s still lighting up my life. Old does not mean dead and you may still have many many years together.  

Even if your time together is shorter than you would like, the quality of that time, the memories you create, the compassion you show and teach others, and the love you share is immeasurable. Sounds corny perhaps, but it’s the truth.

Myth 6

Anesthesia is too risky

Yes anesthesia is riskier in old animals than young ones, but that is no reason to avoid a necessary procedure. Using another example from personal experience – Red had dental surgery about 6 weeks ago. Of course I didn’t dispel these myths about old dogslike the idea of a 15 ½ year old under anesthesia, but I would never allow her to be in pain, and the benefits of getting her mouth, teeth and gums in tip top shape and the problems it will prevent, far outweigh any “risk” there might be. Of course I have a vet I have complete faith in, so I wasn’t worried he would screw up.

Pre-op blood tests and advances in monitoring equipment have made procedures safer than ever. Just make sure you trust your vet.

Myth 7

You can’t bring a new dog home if I have a senior

Don’t think because you already share your life with a senior, you won’t be able to adopt another dog while he/she is still with you. Not every golden oldie will appreciate a puppy jumping all over them, but some might! It’s a question of finding a dog with the right temperament who your older dog will be comfortable with.

I have had many dogs come and go since I’ve had Red, but I also know what type of dogs she will tolerate. She’s happy if they ignore her or want to sleep next to her so that’s who I bring home. Other seniors may want more of a playmate.   

Myth 8

You can’t bond with an old dog

Do people actually think that? You bond with people you meet at various stages of life, why wouldn’t the same be true for a dog? You don’t need to live with a puppy from birth to feel that incredible bond. Open up your heart and home and experience it for yourself.

Myth 9

Old dogs are no fun

They’re not? What’s your definition of fun? Physical exercise and mental stimulation are as important for seniors as they are for any aged dog. There are tons of games you can play together not to mention walk, jog, hike and myths about old dogscycle. If your dog can’t keep up on a run get yourself a pet jogger stroller, and when he’s done put him in and carry on. Love a bike ride and want to share that with your dog? Fantastic, hitch a bike trailer to the back and bring your dog. That sounds like fun doesn’t it? Going for a day out with the family? He’s happy to join.

There are plenty of adventures you can have together, so get creative.

Ignore these myths about old dogs – conclusion

Wow 9 myths I’ve had to debunk and there are probably a few more I could have added, but I think you get the point.

Old dogs can still have lots of life and spunk left in them, so don’t let a number dictate who you share your life with. Go down to your local shelter or contact a rescue group and ask about their old dogs. They deserve a loving home as much as anyone, so save 2 lives (theirs and yours) and go have some adventures.


Do you share your life with an older dog? What do you think of these myths? Did you feel the same way before you rescued an old dog? Share your story in the comment section below, or on my Facebook page and let’s change the way people see the elderly (of all species…).  









  1. Debra Vey Voda-Hamilton

    Hi Hindy!! This is such great advice. Older dogs are absolutely AMAZING!! There’s one thing that I’d like to add to your fabulous advice…

    Older animals DEPEND on continuity of care especially if they’re on meds or have special needs. If the care they need isn’t communicated to their caretakers, how can it be provided if, God forbid, we’re not there to do it ourselves?

    I believe having written short and long term pet care plans in place for all of our pets is important. And, it becomes even MORE critical to have a written plan when they are older so that the care they need to have is provided, regardless of whether we can give it to them ourselves or not.

    Having a care plan in writing helps people feel a lot less anxious about caring for older animals. And, it just might help more of those wonderful seniors get adopted!

    Thank you for what you are doing here. You information is wonderful!

    1. Hindy Pearson (Post author)

      Hello Debra, thank you for your comment and I couldn’t agree more. Continuity of care is my main priority, and I’ve written about that in many of my articles. When it comes to my senior dogs, the most important thing for me is to have the same vet caring for her. He has a plan of action which another vet could seriously derail (unintentionally of course) her progress.

  2. Sonja

    I have had a few seniors in my life. Amazing and wonderful years.

    1. Hindy Pearson (Post author)

      The best!!

  3. Amy Shojai, CABC

    What a great list! Yes, Magical-Dawg is 10 now and other than the gray muzzle and a bit of slowing down during fetch-games, you’d never know he’s senior.

    1. Hindy Pearson (Post author)

      Thanks Amy. That’s exactly what I’m trying to help people see – senior is a number and is not synonymous with lying on a bed waiting to die.

  4. Ruth Epstein

    Such a great post, age is just a number it is what is in the heart that counts. Thanks of talking about us old people ROFL

    1. Hindy Pearson (Post author)

      Thanks Ruth, I couldn’t agree more.

  5. Tonya Wilhelm

    Great post! Dexter is just over 7 and starting his middle years. We battle with his neurological condition, but I pray we have his senior years to look forward to.

    1. Hindy Pearson (Post author)

      Thanks Tonya. You take such great care of Dexter, I hope you get to share many many more years together.

  6. Sweet Purrfections

    Great article. I’ve always gotten my pets as kittens or puppies. I would consider an older fur child as I get older.

    1. Hindy Pearson (Post author)

      Thanks. I’m afraid seniors are all I want to handle, but of course there is something nice about having a long life together.

  7. Karen

    I adopted my dog Jessie when she was 8 years old. She was rescued from a puppy mill, but was not broken mentally as puppy mill dogs sometimes are. Jess was my wing girl, BFF and inspiration from the time I adopted her until she passed away in 2015 at the age of 16. Senior dogs rock!

    1. Hindy Pearson (Post author)

      I love hearing that! Anytime someone adopts an older dog, and a puppy mill rescue no less, it makes my heart soar – seriously. To give an animal a second chance, that most people would ignore is really special.

  8. Rebecca at MattieDog

    Definitely agree with ignoring the myths! We’ve adopted a number of seniors and we can vouch for how easy they are to bring into your home. Often time these older dogs have been a bit neglected or fed a bit too much – we’ve been able to work with a vet and the pups to help bring them back into good health through nutrition and exercise and heaping helping amounts of love and they just thrive! Great piece and thanks so much for spreading the word about seniors

    1. Hindy Pearson (Post author)

      Thanks Rebecca and it’s great you gave senior dogs a chance at happiness. You’re so right about how easy they are to integrate into the home, and how little it takes to help them thrive. I wish more people thought that way but here’s hoping!!

  9. Tenacious Little Terrier

    Dogs can be trained at any age! Puppies, young dogs and seniors all get trained here!

    1. Hindy Pearson (Post author)

      They certainly can!!

  10. Sadie

    Thank you for busting these myths! I have three seniors in my house and we work on new training ideas every month. It keeps them on their toes (and me too).

    1. Hindy Pearson (Post author)

      Thanks Sadie. Monthly training is such a great idea, I bet they love it, and it must make them feel great. I wish more people gave seniors a chance.

  11. Kim

    My 16 year old dog acts like a puppy still!!

    1. Hindy Pearson (Post author)

      You’re doing a great job. What’s your secret? I wish more people realised older dogs can be as energetic as younger ones, and make excellent companions. Thanks for sharing.


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