In celebration of “Adopt a Senior Pet Month,” The Grey Muzzle Organization asks all old dog lovers to post photos and comments on social media with the hashtag #WhyWeLoveOldDogs. The top ten entries will be selected to win My Old Dog – Rescued Pets with Remarkable Second Acts by Laura Coffey, along with Grey Muzzle swag. For contest details, visit greymuzzle.org.
“People who have adopted a senior dog say they would do it again in a heartbeat,” said Lisa Lunghofer, executive director of The Grey Muzzle Organization, a nonprofit that provides grants to animal shelters and rescue groups helping at-risk senior dogs across America. “We’re asking everyone who loves an old dog to share their photos and comments as a way of encouraging others to open their hearts and homes to an older dog who needs a second chance.”
When Grey Muzzle surveyed its grant recipients about trends in senior dog adoption last year, 80 percent reported an improvement in public perception of senior dogs, and two-thirds cited an increase in adoptions. Lunghofer believes that these results reflect the strides society has made in valuing and caring for older dogs.
To celebrate Adopt a Senior Pet Month and The Grey Muzzle Organization’s 10th anniversary, the group put together this list of the top ten changes for senior dogs over the past decade:
- Advances in veterinary care. New drugs help dogs live longer, healthier lives. Veterinary specialists—from cardiologists to ophthalmologists—provide expert care for specific medical issues. Holistic and alternative veterinary care such as acupuncture also help improve the quality of life for senior dogs with arthritis and other age-related ailments.
- The benefits of better dental care. Brushing your dog’s teeth is no longer laughable; it’s laudable. Going to the doggy dentist—a veterinarian with specialized training—is now the norm, helping to prevent health problems caused by poor dental hygiene in the past.
- Media is changing public perception. This year, the first “Dog Bowl” featuring senior dog athletes, joined the popular Puppy Bowl as an alternative to watching the Super Bowl. Mainstream media frequently covers stories about senior dogs. Older canines are also often the darlings of celebrities, as well as social media stars.
- More books about old dogs. People who love old dogs also love reading about them. There are numerous books about senior dogs—ranging from rescue stories to health guides—with new titles being published all the time.
- More groups are rescuing and rehoming senior dogs. In 2018, Grey Muzzle received a record 300+ grant applications from nonprofits helping at-risk senior dogs. Grants were awarded to 180 groups to provide medical and dental care, adoption promotions, hospice care and other services that support The Grey Muzzle’s vision of “a world where no old dog dies alone and afraid.”
- Hospice care for dogs is here to stay. Veterinarians who specialize in hospice care are making house calls to help beloved pets spend their final days comfortably at home. Some rescue groups and shelters also provide homeless pets with “fospice care”—hospice care in foster homes.
- Dogs are treated like family. Dogs participate in weddings, attend birthday parties in their honor, and enjoy lounging on the couch or sleeping in the bed with their humans. Some folks give up travel rather than leave their pups behind, while others vacation and dine at hotels, resorts and restaurant patios that welcome people and dogs.
- Seniors for Seniors programs are booming. Animal shelters often make special efforts to match senior dogs with senior people by offering discounted or waived adoption fees. Many shelters also offer reduced adoption fees to encourage people of all ages to give a senior dog a good home, especially during Adopt a Senior Pet month in November.
- Increased awareness of the health benefits of dogs. Widely-reported studies prove the significant health and social benefits of sharing your life with a canine companion. Many senior housing facilities acknowledge these benefits by welcoming resident or visiting canines—often senior dogs.
- More senior dogs are being adopted. As Grey Muzzle’s 2017 survey reported, more people—young and old—are choosing to adopt senior dogs. Altruism was cited as the top reason, but the fact that older dogs are usually housetrained and mellower than younger pups also make them the best match for many families.