Things You Should Never Say to a Senior Dog Owner

Things you should never say to a senior dog owner

Things you should never say to a senior dog owner

I currently share my life with two dogs, but the absolute love of my life is a 17ish year old Chihuahua/Min Pin named Red. She found me while I was volunteering at a shelter in Florida, and decided I was going to be her person. I must admit I fell in love with her quite quickly as well. She was blind with bulging eyes, weighed a whopping 18lbs and was so obese her stomach touched the ground.

We have been together almost 9 years, and other than when I’ve been on vacation, every day has been spent together. I see her as a family member, not just a “pet.”

I love her more than I can express, and cannot imagine my life without her…that doesn’t mean I am in denial. She has quite a few issues that are being well managed, but our biggest challenge is her dementia, which has Things you should never say to a senior dog ownerworsened. I would never keep her “around” if she was in any sort of discomfort, my main priority being her quality of life.

With that being said, we can get on to why I decided to write an article about things you should never say to a senior dog parent.

It’s simple really

While caring for a senior dog is good for the soul, at least it is for me, caring for one that has health issues has its challenges. We’re dealing with enough we certainly don’t need anyone, whether they are complete strangers, close family or friends, offering their snarky opinions and unsolicited advice.  

Wow your dog is so old!!

Complete strangers have felt compelled to comment on my dog. I don’t know why, I’ve never asked for their opinion, yet they seem to want to give it to me anyway.

The most common thing I hear is “wow your dog is so old.” It’s true it’s not a horrible thing to say, after all she is old, it’s the fact that they choose to say anything that is none of their business annoys me, and of course the extremely obnoxious fashion in which many of them express their feelings pisses me off.

Why make a big deal out of a stupid comment from an ignorant person

You may think I’m blowing this out of proportion, but you would be wrong. It gnaws at me because it is part of a wider feeling society has towards the elderly…whether they have 4 legs or 2. That attitude can be found in the Things you should not tell a senior dog parentveterinary profession as well, which to me is appalling having witnessed it myself on several occasions. How many pet owners have put their animals down because it was “suggested,” for no reason other than a number on a calendar?

It’s sad and it’s widespread

When I decided to write this, I became curious about what, if anything, other senior dog parents have experienced. What better source to go to than my Facebook group, Senior Dog Care Club. The members are such an amazing group of people, kind and compassionate, and they shared some of the comments made to them. I was encouraged to read how many of them set the commenters “straight.”

Only by responding can we help people see not only how insensitive they are being, but we can help change perceptions. Why does a senior have less value than a youngster…human or animal?

***I have not included the names, only the comments***

Some nasty and insensitive comments  

“You should just have him put down now because he’s becoming such a hindrance”


“Why are you spending money on that dog, she’s going to die soon anyway?”


“That thing is still not dead yet?” (from this member’s brother)


“Since taking in a senior dog with a number of issues, I have started feeling kind of alienated with most people that I knew before. I get looks and snappy side remarks when I share details, e.g. how costly vet treatment can get. For instance, I have gotten comments like “think about what all you could do if you hadn’t made that decision”; or “wasn’t that kind of short-sighted to take in this dog, now look at all the difficulties you have.” I even had a therapist tell me it is my own fault if I feel overwhelmed sometimes, since I made a conscious decision for “this problematic dog.”


“When I had to make the decision to have my wee dog put to sleep 5 weeks ago I was devastated, and the so called spiritual healer was very insensitive by saying these things happen!! As if I had lost the button off my coat needless to say they no longer are a part of my circle I dropped them like a hot stone.”


“You can’t just keep spending money on an old dog it’s a waste”


“When I’ve told people about vet visits and they ask how much, they then have said “Guess how much a needle costs? It’s a lot cheaper than what you just spent.” As in euthanasia would’ve been better… WTF?!?!? People are horrid!”


“I don’t get a lot of comments luckily. I have had one “friend” tell me that my dog needs to go ahead and die already when she saw all the medicine I have for her.”


“Maybe it’s time to let him go”


“A friend of my husband’s said “he’s not worth it… just take him out back and shoot him” I was devastated! That’s was the most horrible thing to ever say to me. My husband lost it on him… and I banned that idiot from ever coming over to my house”


“People ask me if I’ll get another dog! ………I have to reply “I’ve still got this one”!


“When Tootie first went blind I told my Dr. and he said “did you have to put her down?” I laughed and said why, there’s nothing wrong, would you want someone to put you somewhere?”


“My husband went to a new Dentist. He mentioned that our dog was sick and she offered to sell him a puppy. Never went back and a couple years later she went out of business.”


“Dang I thought she would be dead already….my reply is I thought the same about you 😊 guess we both are wrong huh”


“He should have been put down long time ago, he must feel miserable”


“I love my boss, but yesterday I told her I was exploring surgery for my otherwise healthy 12 year old Great Pyrenees for his Laryngeal Paralysis and she said, ‘I don’t think that’s a good idea at his age’. I let loose and explained to her that age is not a disease. She apologized”


“My baby is 18, and is starting to have hip problems. She also has had teeth removed. Two people keep telling me I need to start thinking about putting her to sleep, and go ahead & get a new puppy. She is old, and she will be with me as long as possible. She loves life! And no, she needs my full attention now, so no new puppies, at present!”


“I’m going to have work done on my house, upper addition for master bedroom. I commented to a friend of many years that I probably won’t use the upstairs bedroom right away because Ginger has trouble on stairs. She said, “that dog won’t be alive by the time it is finished.” Probably she will not but that was a crummy thing to say”


“Just put him to sleep”

What do you think?

Things you should never say to the owner of a senior dogIf you share your life with a senior dog or have done in the past, particularly if he or she was ill, you know how tough things can get. You want support, encouragement and understanding, particularly from those around you.

It’s incredibly sad to know, most of these comments have been made by family and friends, from people who should be there to offer the most support.


Have you been on the receiving end of similar words? How did you react? Share them in the comments section below.


I would like to invite you to join Senior Dog Care Club, my Facebook group for senior dog parents. There you will find lots of helpful tips and advice, a place to ask questions and share experiences. I look forward to welcoming you.




Things You Should Never Say to a Senior Dog Owner

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22 thoughts on “Things You Should Never Say to a Senior Dog Owner

  1. OMG, these comments are horrid and hurtful! What does it matter the age, size, look, of a dog? Why do people feel the need to leave such comments? Senior dogs ROCK and are filled with love and personality.

  2. People can be such insensitive clods. I have cats, but many of the same things apply. And I can tell you that if anyone ever said “That thing is still not dead?” to me, they’d be gone from my life, relative or not.

    1. They definitely can be, I was shocked by some of the comments my group members were sharing. If anyone ever said anything like that to me, I couldn’t possibly keep them in my life. I think it reveals a lot about their character.

  3. It is really horrifying what people will come up with. If you wouldn’t say it about someone’s grandmother shouldn’t say it about their furry friend.

  4. Holy cow, I cannot even fathom that there are still people who can be so ignorant & callous about the life of a much loved & adored pet. I became physically I’ll reading those comments. I must say though, I Loved your response to the friend who said she thought your sweet pup would be dead by now & you retorted that you thought the same about her – good for you!! That’s classic. I’ve seen a lot of this attitude at the shelter when I volunteered. Red is so lucky & blessed to have you.
    Love & biscuits,
    Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them

    1. It’s shocking Cathy! Thankfully none of these comments have ever been said to me, these are the experiences of my FB group members. I was happy to read about those who did respond, the ignorant need to be taught!

  5. Awful how insensitive some people can be. When my last girl passed away the first question people asked me was “how old was she?” As if her age mattered in any way.

    I absolutely adore senior pets. They give us so much during their lives that during their senior years is when we need to return that to them.

    1. Insensitive and ignorant! You’re right age doesn’t matter, but I assume the fact they asked that means if you had said 15 they wouldn’t have felt as bad for you as if you had lost a younger dog. Senior dogs shouldn’t be dumped in exchange for younger models. They deserve all the love and care we can give them.

  6. “Maybe it’s time to let him go” is such a cruel statement. The love of a pet does not diminish as they age, it only gets stronger.

  7. People say a lot of thoughtless things sometimes. I’m sorry that anyone has had to deal with those callous comments about a dog they love so much.

  8. Oh my gosh. I am so sorry that you have had to deal with such insensitive, horrible disgusting comments from people in your inner circle. I cannot even comprehend some of the things that have been said to you. It truly breaks my heart. I have been there before and experienced just a couple of the things you have but nowhere near the extent of the comments you’ve had to hear. My heart truly breaks for you. I remember when my cat was sick with cancer but still doing okay day to day and when I visited the vet office a patron in the waiting room said “Oh she’s sick? Well you can get another one. ” WTH!! If I didn’t keep my composure I would have smacked her silly. Hello my cat is still alive and right here. It was so disrespectful. I really feel for you I just don’t understand how people can be so insensitive and heartless.

    1. Thanks Kamira but those comments weren’t made to me, but rather to members of my FB group. The only thing anyone has ever said to me was “wow is she old” which I consider quite obnoxious (you have to hear their tone of voice!!). What a horrible thing for that person to say to you Kamira. I don’t know if I could have kept my mouth shut, but I do feel sorry for any pets she has that’s for sure! Glad your cat is still sharing her life with you, it’s incredible.

      1. Thanks Hindy,
        My cat has since passed on but I totally agree with you. I pity the animals that live with that woman. SMH

        1. I’m sorry Kamira, I misunderstood about your cat. It’s tough to encounter these kind of people and not say anything. I’m afraid I don’t always leave my thoughts “unexpressed.”

    2. Between 2009 and 2017 we, hubby Neil and myself, used to do long-term fostering of old & abused cats for a local small charity. So many had been just dumped on the charity as soon as they developed health issues like hyperthyroidism or heart murmurs etc – nothing that ruined their quality of life! Two were even dumped on Linda who ran the charity simply because they were ”too old now” (!!!). Neil and I absolutely adored our oldies and became quite adept at giving the various medications & injections needed and became regulars at our local vets – the charity paid for any vet bills for ongoing problems. We basically just ran an Old Cats’ Home LOL The average time we had our precious oldies seemed to be around 9 months before it was time to let them go to Rainbow Bridge and each time we would BOTH cry buckets, even though it was the right time to let them go. We took so much happiness and satisfaction from knowing these poor abused cats knew love, a comfy bed and full tummies in their final weeks or months and it was this which always had us back on the phone to Linda. But, to get to the point of how AWFUL and heartless some people can be, one of the receptionists at the vets commented to me that I seemed to go through so many cats so quickly and generally insinuated I was a ‘collector’!!! It really upset me as surely if you take on oldies (usually 17+ in age!) with ongoing health issues then they’re not going to last as long as, say, an 8 week old kitten? I put in a complaint about her attitude to the surgery and changed vets after that and the one we have now is SO much better and understands more about cats and their welfare. Sadly we lost our last old girl last year (cancer) and our home has been empty since then but we’re planning to get a dog (or two if I have my way!) in the coming months and neither of us would turn down an older one. Gill xx

      1. Gillian, you and your husband are both stars in my eyes. It’s shocking how easily people dump animals, I mean seriously a thyroid problem!! There’s nothing greater for the soul than nothing you’re giving a homeless animal a wonderful life, no matter how long, or not it is. Good for you for complaining about that stupid receptionist, she’s definitely in the wrong profession. I’ve gotten attitude by a couple of vets where I go, snide comments about my dog’s age and the amount of medications she’s on. I complained to my vet who owns the practice, but he’s so amazing I couldn’t leave him because no one else could care for Red like he does. However I would never go near another vet there!

  9. WOW! I have two senior dogs. Thankfully, we have not experienced major health issues yet (touching wood). I don’t know what I would say or do if someone made some of these comments! I must admit though, I have a friend who’s dog was very, very sick with a cancerous tumor. She was uncomfortable and in pain but my friend was having a difficult time making the decision to let her go. I did suggest ‘maybe it was time’. And, soon after my friend decided it was. I did not say that to be insensitive or cruel.

    1. I don’t know how the people who heard these comments were able to restrain themselves…the ones that did!! When we’re caring for a sick animal we’re so involved sometimes we can’t see the forest for the trees, to quote a cliche. You were a kind and caring friend and obviously helped her see what she wasn’t able to. That is called compassion and her dog was lucky you tried to help.

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