Senior or older dogs are more prone to health conditions or factors that limit their movement to do general exercise.
Our older dogs will generally slow down a little and rest more, but just like older humans, it is still important for them to remain active and healthy.
Age or breed-related health problems may develop as dogs get older. These may cause your older dog to slow down or stop doing certain activities. These changes in activity may affect their lives daily.
Some age-related issues may hinder movement in older dogs include:
- Joint and mobility issues such as arthritis
- Blindness or eyesight deterioration
- Deafness and hearing problems
- Heart problems
- Doggie dementia (Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome).
If you notice your dog having any problems with getting around or they don’t seem to enjoy the idea of exercise anymore, please have a quick visit with your veterinarian.
There may be things that only your veterinarian can check which will help your older dog feel better so that he may enjoy going out again.
Here are a few tips that may help most senior or older dogs:
Keep exercise consistent and gentle.
Gentle, regular exercise will help keep your senior dog active and help their muscles and joints. Little and often is a good rule to follow and joints become stiffer when they are nor used as often.
Don’t stop walking.
Longer walks may become a bit more challenging but they still need the opportunity to get outdoors every day to enjoy the day. To get out, stretch their legs, sniff and get some fresh air. Just like humans, this is a tonic for any senior dog. Make sure you keep the route fairly short in case your dog gets tired but also so that they keep their outings enjoyable and not a stressful event that they have to endure.
Keep in mind the conditions.
If you are exercising in the outdoors keep an eye on the weather, temperature and humidity. Older dogs don’t do very well with very high or low temperatures. Humidity is energy-sapping so you would have to make your route a little shorter. Walk during cooler times of day if it’s hot and make sure your dog is comfy on colder days.
Stick to familiar routes and places.
If your dog has problems with their senses, the familiar surrounding will keep his stress levels down. Older dogs, much like people, may start to lose their sight and hearing. Keeping to familiar surroundings will stop them from becoming anxious and confused.
Be aware of your surroundings.
If your dog’s sight or hearing is getting worse, sudden movements (such as cyclists coming from apparently nowhere) can take them by surprise. This can be quite stressful for your older dog. Should you notice something that might frighten or upset your dog, take preventative action and change your route, and be reassuring that they know you are there to look after them.
Go at your dog’s pace.
Don’t rush your senior dog. Remember they are out to enjoy the day and sniff around. Don’t try to make them exercise for longer than they are able to. If they have stopped chasing a toy or lie down on a walk, listen to them and allow them to rest and take it easy.
Indoor exercises are a benefit too.
If the weather is too hot or cold outside, it’s a great idea to do some indoor exercises too. Ensure the exercises are safe for your older dog to do. Make sure you are able to not only stimulate they body physically but also prove some mental stimulation such as puzzle games and toys together with some nose work for them to enjoy and possibly find a treasured treat!
Always check with your vet that the level of exercise that you are providing is okay and is not going to be a problem for your awesome, older buddy.
At The Biokinetic K-9, we can help you put a gentle program together that will assist your older dog to maintain a good and healthy physical condition.
Contact me today for more information.