As your dog becomes a senior, his energy level will inevitably slow down even if he’s in the best of health for his age. Your aging dog may not be able to run as fast or as long or jump as high as in his younger days, but this doesn’t mean he doesn’t require any exercise. On the contrary, maintaining an active lifestyle will help lessen the effects of common aging conditions such as arthritis and muscle loss. Here are some recommendations for the best kinds of exercise for your older best friend.
Indoor Exercise for Senior Dogs
An indoor environment that stimulates your dog both physically and mentally will help keep him active. If your dog is able, encouraging him to go up and down stairs will aid in keeping his joints moving and his muscles loose. If climbing stairs is proving too much for your dog, provide some ramps to enable him to move around your house more easily.
Outdoor Exercise for Senior Dogs
Your senior dog needs regular walks, but keep them short. If your dog is experiencing any kind of condition that limits his mobility (such as arthritis or hip or elbow dysplasia) let your vet advise you how much your pet is capable of.
If you have access to a dog-friendly pool or lake, swimming for short periods of time is particularly good for older dogs. It’s a low-impact form of exercise that’s easy on an aging dog’s weakening joints and muscles.
Older dogs with mobility issues may still want to run after balls and jump for Frisbees just like they used to, but stamina might be an issue. So limit fatiguing activities such as games of fetch, or walking in sand.
There are a variety of different ways to exercise your dog’s body that dogs love because they usually involve delicious treats! Yoga (doga) and pilates (pawlates) for dogs are becoming more popular because they provide both physical and mental benefits. Find out about local cross-training centers near you.
Keeping Senior Dogs Healthy
Overall care of your senior dog is extremely important. Keep your dog’s weight in check, make sure his nails are kept trimmed, and pamper him with super comfortable bedding. Take your aging dog to your vet for regular checkups and orthopedic exams. Follow your vet’s guidance with respect to recommended supplements or prescription medications. If your dog is experiencing a chronic illness or has had an injury, consider getting in touch with the American Association of Rehabilitation Veterinarians. They can assist you in putting together a rehab program specifically designed for your canine friend. Such a program might include exercise, chiropractic, acupuncture, or cryotherapy.
Overall, remember that you don’t need to provide as much exercise at this senior stage of your dog’s life. Give your dog the help he needs – a massage, a ramp for getting up steps or into your car, etc. And be patient – enjoy this time and celebrate the many years of companionship your dog has given you. And if your senior dog is unfortunate enough to require emergency treatment and you reside in the Columbia SC area, CVETS will do our best to restore him to the optimum condition for his age.