We love our pets. Unfortunately, as they age their needs change. What works for one dog, may not work for the next—especially when it comes to senior dogs.
The good news is if you keep your dog fit and provide them with a nutritious diet they can stay healthy well into their senior years.
While it’s easy to control your dog’s diet, it’s not as easy to manage the exercise they get.
Not sure where to start?
First, it’s a good idea to check with your vet to see if your senior pup is healthy enough for regular exercise. Once they give you the all clear, consider a few of the following exercise tips to help your dog age with grace and dignity.
Exercises for Less Agile Senior Dogs
If your pup has reached the 10 + mark it’s unlikely they can jump, sprint or run like they once did. These low-impact exercises are perfect for older and wiser fur babies.
Walking keeps muscles in your dog’s legs, joints and back strong. Instead of going for 2 or 3-mile-long walks like you did when they were one or two, opt for shorter walks. Often, 5-10 blocks are plenty.
Alternatively, you can switch your route to loops around your home or apartment so you can cut it short if your dog looks like she’s had enough.
Does your pet love the water? Then let her go wild in a local creek or body of water. Swimming is perfect because it’s easy on the joints and your dog can choose when and where to stop when she’s tired. It’s also a great conditioning exercise. We recommend getting a good life jacket for your pup since she may tire out more quickly than usual which poses a drowning risk.
Stiff, achy muscles are a big concern for older dogs. Just like us, their muscles tighten and joints grow rusty as they age. Stretching is a great way to limber them up and reduce pain caused by arthritis. A simple way to help them stretch is to get them in a sit and tease them with a treat so they have to crawl to reach it. This stretches out the hinder quarters and warms up their body. You can also have them lay on their back and gently stretch out their legs with a bit of a pull. Be mindful of any injuries your dog may have when doing this activity.
Exercises for Active Senior Dogs
Congratulations! Your dog is more mobile than most seniors—no doubt it’s a testament to how well you’ve cared for them. Check out these simple, but effective, exercises for your active senior dog.
If your pooch is up for a challenge, try incorporating hills into your daily walk. They don’t have to be the size of Mount Everest, but they do need to be challenging (think 4-6 on a treadmill incline). You can also do downhill walking if you want to strengthen your dog’s front legs.
Just because your dog is aging doesn’t mean he can no longer play a game of fetch. Toss the ball around for your pooch but limit the time you spend doing it—especially if you live in a warm climate. Your dog may love these activities, so don’t stop playing with them, just be mindful of how easily they fatigue. Shorter games can be just as fun.
Hide & Seek
If it’s too hot for outdoor activities, try an indoor game of hide and seek. Dogs love the thrill of finding you in your secret hideout, and it stimulates their mind as well as their body. If you have stairs and a toy motivated dog, toss their toy down the stairs and hide upstairs. This gives them an extra bit of exercise and keeps the game super fun for your dog.
Nothing beats a good game of tug. It’s low-impact, fun, and engages their body. Be wary of dogs who don’t have the best teeth, however. Gentle pulls are enough to keep your dog tuned into the game without hurting their mouth.
Keep Them Healthy for Years to Come!
Our dogs are more than pets, they’re family. These exercises can keep your dog healthy for years to come. The key is to listen to your vet, tune into what your dog is feeling, and only push them as far as they’re comfortable. The result is a happy and healthy senior dog who’s ready for the next big adventure!