As our beloved canine friends get older and the vibrant energy they used to showcase becomes but a beautiful memory of the past, our senior dogs can become at risk of developing life-threatening conditions and putting on an unhealthy amount of weight. It’s not unusual for older dogs to become sedentary and engage in very little to no movement throughout the day. Nevertheless, even if they lack the same energy they once did, they still require movement and physical activity to keep them healthy for as long as possible and prevent premature death.
Without any exercise or physical activity of some level, our senior dogs can easily lose muscle and bone strength and become progressively weaker. It’s not always easy to find the right ways to encourage your old pup to engage in some movement and burn some calories. They may not appreciate the idea of being bothered or forced to move around and even worse, you may be concerned about the possibility of the activity even hurting them. Understand, however, that a certain level of movement and activity is necessary to continue to foster the health and wellbeing of your senior dog and you must therefore, find the right exercises that will offer an effective level of mental and physical stimulation, while remaining safe. We have compiled this guide to offer you inspiration and ideas for fun and safe exercises, so you can rest assured your beloved older canine friend will stay out of harm’s way, while still helping to promote their physical strength and wellbeing.
Regardless of your dog’s age and physical limitations, doing some walking is usually necessary to promote a healthy weight and body shape. Walking typically requires minimal effort or body strength from our pets, while promoting an array of health benefits as well as serving as a form of entertainment for them. Walking is not only a form of mental and physical stimulation for your dog, it can also help support a strong and healthy cardiovascular and pulmonary system as well as lower blood pressure and increase stamina, amongst many other benefits.
Make sure you try to walk your dog during warm or cool temperatures, avoiding extreme weather that is too cold or too hot. We recommend you quickly check the sidewalk’s temperature whenever you take your old pup out for a walk, as their fragile paws could get easily hurt if it happens to be too hot. This should only take about 15 seconds and can be done by putting your bare hand on the sidewalk and trying to hold it for 10 seconds. If it gets too hot for you to wait 10 seconds, then it is probably too hot for your dog to walk on. Lastly, always walk at your dog’s pace, avoiding the need for them to go faster than their aging body allows. Also, always try to acknowledge your pup’s rhythm to avoid unnecessary exhaustion.
You can always schedule a visit with your vet, and together come up with a proper exercise regimen that won’t exhaust or overwhelm your beloved canine friend. The vet will evaluate your pet’s health and physical status, as well as their physical abilities and limitations. If your dog is found to be in good health and strong enough to exercise, the vet will then provide you with a list of exercise ideas that are safe and fun for your senior dog to do.
Another fun and usually safe physical activity for senior pups to do is swimming. It can offer them a full-body workout without the same level of energy output typically required by more vigorous and intense physical activities. Overall, swimming can help promote dogs’ muscle strength and improve cardiovascular health, as well as serve as an effective form of physical therapy for senior dogs as the water can help enhance their flexibility and capacity for movement. Make sure you always supervise your senior dogs during any swimming session and offer them support if needed. This can be done by holding their bodies underneath the water and staying in the shallow end when necessary.
Even if your old pup’s muscles might not be as strong as they once were. try and see if they are able to handle some level of strength training to promote healthy bones and prevent any further muscle decay. This can include things like asking your senior dog to sit down and get up multiple times, or holding a squat position while being encouraged with a nutritious treat. You can also try some back extensions, or even get a small exercise bench with a no slipping surface to have your dog go up and down as if it was a set of stairs.
As long as our senior dogs continue to have the ability to walk or move around, we should be encouraging them to stay active as much as possible, without abusing their energy levels and over-exhausting their aging bodies.
As a rule of thumb, depending on your pup’s physical abilities and limitations, at least 30 minutes of exercise each day is recommended. This should help enhance their overall physical strength, health and stamina as well as provide an effective form of mental and physical stimulation.. Also, depending on your pet’s life stage and age, always make sure to opt for lower-impact activities. Remember, no matter what activities you decide to do with your senior dog, your older pup will of course love spending quality time, strengthening your bond with you through these various exercises, creating beautiful, lasting memories.