Most responsible dog owners know that exercise plays an extremely important part of their canine best friend’s overall health and well-being. However, as your dog enters his senior years, he may find physical pursuits much harder than he used to. Jumping, climbing, running and even walking may present him with difficulties, sometimes so much so that he might even refuse to participate in them at all. Even if your canine pal is still active, you will probably notice a significant decline in his stamina, and where once he would walk with you for miles, he may now seem tired and reluctant after a short jaunt.
All of these changes are completely normal and to be expected. Your senior dog’s body has gone through a lot and the effects of ageing will be taking a toll. Nevertheless, this in no way means that you should give up on exercise with your dog – far from it! Exercise is just as important as your canine gets older.
Why is exercise so important for my senior dog?
Just because he might need to take things a little easier than he did before, regular exercise is still crucial if your older furbaby is to remain healthy and live as long as possible during his senior years.
One of the main reasons for this is that exercise helps you to manage your dog’s weight. As your dog gets older, he will be naturally predisposed to putting on weight thanks to a slowing metabolism and a reduction in the amount of exercise that he does. However, excess weight is a key factor in the development of many health conditions including diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and arthritis – all of which can have serious consequences for your pet. By ensuring he gets enough exercise to counteract weight gain and altering his nutrition, you can prevent obesity and obesity-related conditions from affecting your senior dog.
Exercising your older dog can also:
Keep his joint, ligaments and muscles strong and supple.
Improve blood flow around his body which will help keep his organs functioning well as well as promoting healing in any areas that may need it.
Reduce pain and inflammation in his body.
Improve his mood.
Reduce boredom and associated bad behaviors.
Improve his overall health and well-being.
Extend his lifespan.
But, what if my dog just doesn’t have the mobility for exercise anymore?
There are lots of reasons why your senior dog may not have the range of movement that he did before. If he has slipped over or slid into something, he may have torn muscle or ligaments which are painful and can compromise his ability to move. Arthritic joints, hip dysplasia and even weight gain can be very limiting to his mobility too.
While running or jumping may be off the cards in these instances, this doesn’t mean that there are no types of exercise he can do - it is just a case of trying to find physical activities that he can safely enjoy. A perfect example of this is swimming. Swimming is a low-impact form of exercise that is ideal for dogs with joint pain or damage, and for those who may find running too much of a drain. Just make sure that you take adequate safety precautions and never leave your dog unattended in the water. Another good option is doggy yoga, or doga as it is often referred to. Although this won’t get his heart pumping, it is a very good way of building strength in his muscles and spine, which in turn will improve his overall health and mobility. Your vet will be pleased to work with you to find a type of exercise that suits your dog with restricted mobility.
If you would like further advice and support in ensuring that your senior dog gets the exercise as he needs during his golden years, our friendly and experienced team are on hand to help. Please contact our veterinary clinic in Murrayville, GA to schedule an appointment.