Lee Ann Senior Dog

Foster Care for Outdoor Senior Dogs: Nutrition, Healthcare, and Best Practices

April 15, 2024 Lee Ann Hagerty

Fostering senior dogs who have spent their entire lives outdoors leads to unique challenges and rewards. These dogs often come from backgrounds where they have not received proper nutrition and healthcare. Transitioning them to indoor living requires patience, understanding, and a commitment to provide them with the care they deserve. In this article, we will explore the importance of proper nutrition and healthcare for senior dogs in these circumstances and discuss best practices for fostering them.

Nutritional Needs

Nutrition plays a crucial role in the overall health and well-being of all senior dogs, especially those who have lived outdoors all their life. Many of these dogs may have been scavenging for food or subsisting on inadequate diets and scraps. As a result, they may suffer from malnutrition or nutrient deficiencies, leading to various health issues such as weakened immune systems, poor coat condition, and joint problems.

It's essential to provide senior foster dogs with high-quality, balanced nutrition. Some dog foods that are noted to be formulated for seniors, may contain lower calories to accommodate their lower activity levels and higher levels of essential nutrients like protein, vitamins, and minerals, which may help the foster dog. Consider consulting with a veterinarian to determine the best diet plan for a foster dog based on age, size, and health status.

Diet Transition

Transitioning a senior dog to a new diet should be done gradually, when possible, to prevent digestive upset. A fostered senior dog will often come with no food to transition from. If lucky, they may have enough to have their prior diet, start by mixing small amounts of the new food with their current food, and gradually increase the proportion of the new food over several days. Monitor their appetite, stools, and overall well-being during this transition period and adjust as needed.

Senior dogs may sometimes have dental issues or difficulty chewing dry kibble. A few options to overcome this are to add warm water to the dry kibble or to opt for softer or wet food options that are easier for them to consume. Additionally, always providing access to fresh water is essential for hydration, especially for older dogs who may be more prone to dehydration.

Healthcare Considerations

Senior dogs require regular veterinary care to monitor their health and address any age-related issues that may arise. Often, foster dogs received from hunters and other outdoor homes have yet to be neutered or spayed. Scheduling a comprehensive veterinary examination and the neuter/spay as soon as feasible is important for the dog's health and potty training in a home environment. This examination also allows the veterinarian to assess their overall health, identify underlying conditions, and establish a preventive healthcare plan.

During the veterinary visit, discuss the foster dog's medical history, or lack thereof, including any vaccinations, parasite prevention, and previous health concerns. The veterinarian may recommend additional screenings or diagnostic tests to evaluate their organ function, dental health, and mobility. They can advise on specific healthcare interventions or treatments tailored to the foster dog's needs.

Why Foster Senior Dogs with Outdoor Backgrounds

Best Practices for Fostering

Fostering senior dogs who have lived outdoors their entire lives requires compassion, patience, and a commitment to providing them with the care and attention they deserve. Proper nutrition and healthcare are essential to ensuring their well-being as they transition to indoor living. By providing them with high-quality food, regular veterinary care, and a safe, comfortable environment, can help a senior dogs thrive in their golden years and enjoy a happy, healthy life.

Additional Resources

The Senior Dogs Project- Why Foster.

Best Friends- Save Them All- Dog Foster Care Manual

About the Author: Lee Ann Hagerty has a wealth of knowledge from 29+ years in the pet food industry, working for Iams, Procter & Gamble, Mars Pet Care, and now BSM Partners. Lee Ann has a passion for helping dogs and being a foster parent. In the last year, she has fostered over 14 dogs. Many of them were senior dogs who had lived their entire lives outside as hunting dogs. She has been a foster pet parent for many years, and it brings her great joy to see these pets find fur-ever homes where they live with families indoors with love and care.

Follow us on LinkedIn for the latest updates on all things happening here, at BSM Partners.  

This content is the property of BSM Partners. Reproduction or retransmission or repurposing of any portion of this content is expressly prohibited without the approval of BSM Partners and is governed by the terms and conditions explained here.