Many people ask me if they should get a second dog as a companion to their older dog. After all, it doesn't take twice as much work to take care of two right? (Although remember, it does cost twice as much!)
If you add the right second dog to the family and are a bit lucky, it can work well for all involved.
Often a younger dog helps keep your dog more active and we know that exercise can help ease mild or moderate arthritis pain and even help keep excess weight off. Some people report that their older dog taught the new dog the house rules and "manners". If they get along with one another, they can be good friends and companions.
And be sure to stagger their ages - having dogs five or more years apart can mean emotional, logistical and financial benefits for you as they go through each of the inevitable life stages.
If you do decide a second dog is the right one for you, be sure your older dog is still active enough to be able to hold his or her own with the youngster. And as the caretaker, you need to make sure your senior is able to physically get away and get some time off. For an elder dog there is a fine line between a playful pal and an irritating punk!
Don't assume they will get along automatically. Compatibility is not a sure thing. Many dog professionals recommend that if you do get a second dog, you should choose one of the opposite sex to reduce the likelihood of power struggles.
Consider working with a trainer as you select the second canine - it may make the difference in getting the right fit, and ensuring a healthy first impression when you introduce them to each other. A trainer can also give you good tips on feeding and sleeping rules of thumb to support good behavior and confident dogs at home.
Then sit back and enjoy twice the love!
Mary Craig, DVM, MBA
Dr Craig is a mobile veterinarian with a house call practice focused on end-of-life care.