Senior dogs are more prone to health conditions that limit their movement and how much they can exercise. They are now slower, more inactive, and require more rest compared to when they were younger. However, exercise and keeping them active is still an important factor for their health. Here are tips for exercising senior dogs.
Tips for Exercising Senior Dogs: How to Keep Your Older Dog Active
As your dogs age, they are more likely to develop age-related health concerns which restrains them from doing activities they used to do when they were younger. Certain health issues can include
- Arthritis, joint and mobility problems
- Heart problems
- Dog dementia or Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome
Some senior dogs are still open to exercise but if you notice yours have been having problems getting up or walking and are more repulsed by the thought of exercising, you can always consult your veterinarian and have them take a look. There is a chance that your senior dog could be in more pain than you thought.
It is important to care for your senior dogs and if your older pooch is still open to exercising, here are useful tips for exercising senior dogs.
Visit the vet first
The first thing you need to do before you start exercising senior dogs is to see the veterinarian first. If you have multiple concerns, write down your questions before the consultation to make sure you don’t forget the ask the veterinarian about them.
Your vet will thoroughly examine your older dog’s condition and will help you devise an exercise routine suited for its condition.
Have a daily walking routine
Dogs love walkies and it is a great and simple exercise that is highly recommended for all dogs, including senior ones. Your older fluffball might not be able to go on a 3-hour hike with you or do more strenuous running but a nice walk around the neighborhood is something it will enjoy.
If they are now used to your daily walking routine, you can let your senior dog decide where to go by letting them lead you and taking occasional breaks in between.
Remember, if your dog is struggling with obesity or has mobility issues, take all sorts of exercises easy. Instead of leading them up to hills, try to stay with flat surfaces first and gradually increase the walking distance as time pass.
Take it easy
When you are starting a new exercise routine for your senior dog, make sure to take it easy and slow. Dogs can over-exert themselves and older dogs who are out of shape and more inactive are more likely to be exhausted to the bones. Take it easy and slow and gradually increase their activity over time. This is to also avoid injuries
As mentioned, if you have a new walking routine, start first in an easy location with a flat surface so your dog doesn’t strain its muscles. If you decided to add new fun activities, like swimming or a game of fetch, keep track of your dog’s activeness and if they are showing signs of discomfort or pain afterward.
Soon, you’ll be able to tell how much activity your senior dog can handle and will be able to adjust the exercise routine.
Do Low Impact Exercises
By the time dogs hit 8 years old, 80% of them have arthritis. This data says that sooner or later, many dog owners have to deal with lovable senior pooches suffering from these joint problems.
And while it might seem disheartening, it doesn’t exactly mean that your senior dog is completely immobile. There are still low-impact exercises, such as walking, light running, indoor games, easy swimming, or gentle playing, that are doable for dogs with mobility issues. These types of exercises and activities can help the muscles of senior dogs to stay strong while also being easy on their joints.
Supplement with mental exercises
Aside from physical exercises, one way to keep your senior dog active is to also supplement with mental stimulation. Simple games, such as asking them to find treats or a quick game of hide and seek, will keep your dog’s mental healthy and engaged while encouraging them to do physical exercises as well.
Throughout the day, do a few extra games and activities that your senior dog can enjoy indoors, like using a food-dispensing toy, hide and seek, or letting them sniff around the garden.
Massages after Excercise
A 10-minute dog massage after your senior dog’s exercise can help soothe its muscles and decrease stiffness and pain, lower blood pressure, and improve blood circulation.
Using a light hand, gently massage your dog. This is also an excellent way to calm them down and relax after exercising.
Find the most suitable exercise routine
The exercises you have for your puppies and adolescent dogs are no longer suitable for your senior dogs. This is why it is important to find an exercise routine that suits their condition and is appropriate for their age.
If you have a 20-minute walking routine every day, you can always test the waters and add an extra 5 minutes or add a gentle play session during the evening. You must keep an eye on your older dog’s behavior after each exercise session to see if there are any signs of pain or discomfort. If there are, readjust the routine and slow down a bit.
And if you think that the pain that your senior dog is feeling requires veterinary consultation, don’t ever hesitate to book an appointment.