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December 2, 2021

Adopting a Dog with Medical Issues

  • Adoption
  • Dog
  • What to Expect
Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever dog smiling in living room beside pet parent

Decisions, decisions. There are always many to make when it comes to our pets, but one of the biggest decisions often faces those kind-hearted folks who are considering adopting a dog with medical issues. Before you make the leap into adopting a dog with health concerns, there are many important factors to consider.

Should you adopt a dog with health issues?

Knowing exactly what you are going to be dealing with before you adopt can save you a lot of grief, time and money.

A dog with medical issues might suffer from:

  • A thyroid condition
  • Epilepsy
  • Skin issues
  • Digestive problems
  • Allergies
  • Ear infections

Be sure you have a thorough understanding of the medical condition(s) that affect the dog you are considering before you sign the paperwork and take them home.

A long-term prognosis can help you make the right decision for both you and the dog. Some conditions may be a relatively simple and inexpensive fix: others may be life-long maladies that require intensive care for the life of the dog.

What lifestyle changes will arise?

Depending on matters like medication schedules, feeding routines and exercise requirements, will the dog fit in to your current lifestyle, or are you going to have to make major adjustments to your routines?

We recently looked after a rescue dog who suffers seizures and needed medicating five times a day. His dedicated owners have adjusted their work and leisure plans around those needs. Would you be able to do the same in similar circumstances?

Make sure you are feeding your dog a pet food that can help alleviate these issues. If you dog is suffering from dry and itchy skin, check out the Go! Solutions Skin + Coat Care recipes as they help support a healthy skin and shy coat. If your dog a sensitive stomach or food sensitivities check out the Go! Solutions Sensitivities Limited Ingredient recipes.

GO! SOLUTIONS SKIN + COAT CARE dry food recipes for dogs

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Skin + Coat Care Recipes for Dogs

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Will the dog fit in with your family and other pets?

This question is a consideration for anyone adopting an animal, healthy or otherwise. However, dogs with medical conditions sometimes have different mannerisms and needs. If you have a younger dog or children who always want to play, what happens if your adoptee is feeling unwell and isn’t up to a lot of activity? Dogs who seizure are often attacked by other dogs – can you make arrangements to keep everyone safe and apart if something like this happens?

Does your house work for the dog?

Keep in mind that a big dog with mobility issues probably won’t manage very well if you live in a home with lots of stairs. Consider a smaller dog, but even then be prepared to possibly have to carry him in and out for pottying and outdoor time.

Do you have a reliable and dedicated dog sitter?

This has to be a major consideration if you have a dog with ongoing medical issues. Some boarding kennels simply won’t take on a dog with complex medical needs, and many dog sitters aren’t competent enough to medicate properly.

Additionally, there are some dog sitters who simply aren’t willing to take on the added responsibility of ensuring that your pooch remains happy and healthy while you are away. If you are fortunate enough to find someone, you may find there are extra charges for the special care required.

What will the medical care cost?

Any responsible pet owner knows that there will be veterinary and food costs associated with owning a dog. But those expenses can balloon in to thousands of dollars if you decide to adopt a pet with complex medical issues.

For a dog who is simply malnourished, a few months of high quality food may be enough to fix what’s broken. Internal and external parasites can be dealt with relatively inexpensively, as can issues like thyroid problems.
Shirley Culpin with her two dogs
Shirley CulpinDog Owner, Sitter + Trainer

Much of the cost associated with a dog with medical issues depends on the condition itself and how hard you are willing to try to minimize the effects of the condition. Special equipment, specific food and possible ongoing veterinary costs should all factor in to your decision.

In some cases you may be able to find some financial assistance from rescue groups and humane societies to help cover some medical expenses.

In the end, adopting a dog with medical challenges can be a rewarding experience for everyone involved. Dogs with health issues are as deserving as any other canine of a life filled with love and comfort. So, give some serious thought to what lies beyond those loving eyes, and be prepared to enjoy a very special relationship if you make the leap.


Shirley Culpin with her two dogs

Shirley Culpin

Dog Owner, Sitter + Trainer

Shirley has been involved with the purebred dog world for 45 years. Her Irish Setters have won many Best in Show awards, top obedience accolades, and advanced agility titles. She remains active in dog volunteer work and with her dog sitting service.