Looking after a dog at any age isn’t something you should take lightly, depending on their breed and age they could require your attention for the majority of the time.
There are a few things you’ll need to consider before getting a dog, particularly if you are working full time or leading a busy lifestyle.
Luckily, with retirement comes a new lease of life and plenty of free time to give a dog the attention it requires.
Think carefully about the responsibility, now you have given up working will you be taking on new hobbies or travelling? Can you still accommodate a dog in your new life?
We’ve created a checklist of things to consider before becoming a dog owner, although the dog will change your life for the better no pet is free of costs and responsibilities.
This is the most obvious point, but like us, dogs need to eat! Not only are there cost implications for keeping your pet well fed, but it’s also vital they’re eating the right amount and that their meal times are regulated.
Feeding a dog at all times of day will leave it confused so try to stick to a schedule, that way its easier to remember.
Different dog breeds and sizes require different amounts of food, even if your dog seems hungry all the time overfeeding it can be very harmful. Take a look at this blog if you think your dog is becoming overweight.
If you have a substantial pension and savings and plan to live out your retirement in luxury, you won’t need to worry about the added costs of a dog. However, if your pension is just about covering your lifestyle, the addition of that extra mouth to feed might not be a great idea.
Good quality dog foods like Reet Good are more moderately priced, which is the cost of having a happy, healthy dog.
When thinking about how to look after your dog food is the key ingredient. However, you will also need to think about other supplies dogs require. This list will get you started:
- Water Bowl
- Food Bowl
- Shampoo & Conditioner
- Coat for rainy/snowy walks
- Poo Bags
- Dental Stix & Treats
- Chew Toys
This isn’t an exhaustive list, and you will likely see extras along the way that you want to pick up – but for a happy dog, these items are essential.
Some smaller dogs don’t require as much vigorous activity as others so the ball games may be limited. Big furry dogs will also be less likely to need a winter coat, so there are a few things to think about before investing in everything.
If you’re getting a dog as a puppy training can be a stressful time for both of you. Think about the time you will have to invest in the first few months of your dog’s time with you to get him/her adequately trained.
As you get older you may not be quite as agile as you once were, so thinking about how to look after your dog when you’re retired might mean how far you can walk and if you can keep up with it.
It may even be necessary to go to puppy training classes to help move things along – these can be costly but will put you in better stead for life as a dog owner.
If your dog is a rescue dog and has had a particularly rough start the training can be even harder as they need to get used to a new environment. Luckily in retirement, you have more time than most to spend training your new companion.
Some dogs such as Shit Tzu’s require regular grooming to keep them comfortable and stop them looking too shabby. Whereas dogs that shed regularly won’t need trimming and you can wash them at home every 3-4 weeks.
If you get a dog that requires professional maintenance you have to factor that into your budget, if you can do it at home think about costs of care products and if you have space (a bath or large shower) to wash your dog at home.
Remember, washing at home will require significant flexibility on your part so if you have a bad back, bending over the bath might not even be an option.
Proofing the house
If you’re getting a puppy, you may need to think about proofing the house to stop any unwanted mess getting on the carpet.
Even when the dog gets older and settles into life at home, there could be some rooms or whole floors you don’t want them to access, so installing a baby gate on the stairs might be a good idea to stop them moulting all over your fresh sheets.
As well as that it makes sense to remove any hazards at dog level such as open cupboards containing cleaning products or small plastic things your dog could choke on.
Keep the food in a sealed tub away from their reach because if they can smell it, they may well eat it. Hopefully, in retirement, you have more time to spend with your pooch so they shouldn’t have as much opportunity to be home alone getting into trouble.
Proofing the yard
If you’re lucky enough to have a fenced garden for your dog to play in this won’t be such a problem, all you’ll need to do is the same as the house – make sure there are no small objects they could potentially eat and remove any harmful plants.
If you have a yard with bins in it, they may need to be moved away to stop your new pet being tempted to rifle through the rubbish. Dogs are usually happy enough to stroll in and out of the yard as they please, if they are small enough you could even install a dog flap!
A pet parent’s worst fear is that their dog will run away from home, but there are a few steps you can take to ensure your dog returns swiftly if he manages to escape.
Make sure they have a tag with your address details and phone number on – this is the first thing someone will look for and means your missing dog can be brought home safely quickly after he’s gone.
Be extra precautious by chipping your dog. Registering it with a chip will ensure that even if the collar is lost or removed when it’s found and brought to the vet, they will know where he belongs.
Again this is dependant on breed type. If you have been running marathons your whole life and are still as fit and agile in your old age as you once were, exercising your dog will not be a problem.
However, if your mobility is restricted but you still want a furry companion, it makes sense to get a small less energetic breed that doesn’t require huge daily walks.
Vet bills can be a significant chunk out of your budget, so it makes sense to be fully protected by pet insurance. Often, you’ll be able to claim back any money spent on vet bills, and the monthly premiums start from as little as £6.
Becoming a dog owner is one of the most special things in life and retirement should not stop you! It just makes sense to be aware of the dog’s needs before you embark on a lifelong journey caring for it.
Adopting an adult dog could be a wise choice because they’ll often be trained and can fit more easily into your lifestyle.