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Senior Dogs Need Proper Exercise, Too

Wouldn’t it be nice if the more time you put in on earth, the less time you would have to exercise? Sadly, for both people and pets that is not the case. As time passes, it is easy to believe that dogs do not need to exercise as much…or at all. While you can’t just go hit the road or trails for miles with a senior dog or toss a ball far distances, there are ways to give them healthy and proper exercise that will help them stay fit.

Walking

With any dog, but especially a senior pet, you need to evaluate and pay attention to their abilities and limits. Walking a dog never goes out of style in a dog’s world – unless it’s prohibited by a vet or your pup has injuries that would make this a bad idea. Pay attention to the pace you set and the amount of time you are walking. You can also just let your senior pooch set the pace. Start with a short amount of time until you figure out the best walking combination for your doggie.  

When planning your walk, take outdoor temperatures and routing, including a path’s style (asphalt, gravel, sand, etc.) and inclines into consideration. A trail that is too cold or too hot could hurt the paws of your furry friend. For instance, a hot day could mean asphalt that burns their paws. Manage the walks so that your pet is comfortable throughout the walk. Be mindful of the climate and footing before heading out.

When you return from your walks, if your pup seems stiff, you might want to shorten your walks. Although exercise is the mission, make sure It is enjoyable; take time to stop and smell the flowers and enjoy getting some fresh air with furry best friends. 

“As dogs age, they can experience behavioral changes as well as shifts in their physical health.  You may notice heightened anxiety, destructiveness, obsessive behaviors, restlessness and increased vocalization.  Consult with your veterinarian to ensure these changes are not caused by a physical problem, and ask about supplements and herbs that can help.  Try introducing toys that provide mental stimulation, and maintain a schedule of walks, training and social interactions.  An excellent, species-appropriate diet is also of utmost importance as your dog ages to keep your pet mentally healthy.” — Dr. Laura Weis, co-owner of Doylestown Veterinary Hospital & Holistic Pet Care with her husband Dr. Ransome Weis.  

Related: Consider Adopting an Older Dog

Treadmills

During some months of the year it is just too hard to get outside with your pet and still keep them comfortable, so a treadmill could be an alternative – if you have one at home or access to one that allows pets, of course. While this is not for all dogs and can be a tricky process to get started, some dogs even enjoy walking on treadmills. It would be highly recommended to take the time to learn how to train your pet for this exercise trick. 

Swimming

Swimming is a great low impact exercise for pooches. Beyond having access to water, you need to take safety measures to make sure nothing can go wrong. If you do not know if your dog can swim, take it slow and easy. You can purchase a life vest to help keep your dog safe, as well as helping to assist your doggie with swimming lessons. Check to see if their breed has problems swimming or if they are part of a pack that loves to swim. If you have access to pet-friendly pools or lakes and the weather is right and your pup loves a good dip, you should add this into your exercise routine. 

Related: Breeds of Dogs Who Love to Swim

Playing

While this does not seem like much, just interacting with senior dogs and having them move around can assist in keeping them healthy and happy. Roll a ball and have them walk over to get it or toss a toy around so they are up and moving – and as a bonus they are getting some extra attention. You might even be able to teach an old pup a new trick. 

Related: Senior Dogs at Pet Care Facilities

Doggie Day Care

Doggie day care is not just a place for young pups, but your senior pooch will also benefit greatly from time at their favorite pet care facility. If you are busy and need help, this is a wonderful alternative to them having to be home alone or not exercising enough. Some of the benefits from doggie day care include exercise, supervision from certified well-trained professionals, and mental stimulation – almost everyone likes getting out and seeing people and furry friends. At a day care facility, the trained dog care providers will watch your dog’s temperament and abilities to make sure they are in the right places and getting the style of exercise that will work for them.

All this said, do not overdo exercise and do get advice from your veterinarian. While exercise is important, your dog’s comfort should be your first concern. Making sure they are getting exercise and enjoying themselves will help with their health and keep them young at heart. 

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