Just like people, as dogs get older, they get stiff joints and develop some health challenges. Maybe they can’t go on hikes or play fetch like they used to, but they’re still treasured companions who you love to have around. There are some things you can do to make their lives easier, give them a better quality of life, and make sure they get an appropriate amount of regular exercise.
What happens if my senior dog isn’t exercised enough?
If your senior pup isn't getting enough exercise, they can gain too much weight, resulting in health problems. They can also start to show signs of boredom which can bring some destructive behaviors with it.
The most common mistake people make with their aging pup is offering the wrong types of exercise. Whether your older dog needs a few cardiovascular workouts or is an all-day walker, here are five ways to keep your senior dog active.
Great Exercise Options for Senior Dogs
Swimming is a great low-impact exercise for senior dogs because it allows them to move in the water without all of the weight on their joints. While many dogs are natural swimmers, some dogs need some training, so be cautious when your dog is around water. You can even make it into a game by using toys that will stimulate their minds and bodies. Over time, this type of exercise can really help them build muscle strength.
If you and your dog have always enjoyed walking, keep it up! And if you didn’t walk your dog a lot in their younger years, it might be a good time to start. It may not be ideal to take walks in rocky areas where they may not have solid ground under their feet. Although you might not be able to go for long distances like you used to, you can still enjoy this time with your dog and nature!
Playing fetch or whatever other type of playtime your dog has traditionally enjoyed can be a part of their daily exercise. Playing with their toys is an excellent way for your senior dog to feel a familiar situation, and it's also a perfect form of mental stimulation. Even if your pup doesn't have the same enthusiasm as they once did, you'll be amazed at how much more energy they can muster when it's for a game of fetch.
4. Doggy Daycare
Dogs who spend time in daycare have more opportunities to interact with other dogs and move around the daycare facility for more exercise than they’d get if they were sitting at home. Even if you can bring your dog to the daycare a few times each week for a few hours each time, they’ll get moving which helps their muscles and joints stay limber.
Is it possible for a senior dog to exercise too much?
According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, the average dog requires about 30 minutes of exercise per day. You may need to break that up into a few short walks or play sessions each day if your dog isn’t able to go for longer in a single session. If you notice any signs of discomfort or pain in your dog, stop exercising them immediately. It’s also a good idea to give them a few different types of exercise throughout the week so they can use different muscles, avoiding overwork of any one area of the body.
How much rest is necessary after a session?
There is no standard amount of time that you should wait before allowing your senior dog to exercise again, but it's essential to not over-exert them. If they seem tired or disoriented, give them a break and try again later.
If you notice your dog showing signs of a sore paw, leg, back, etc., be sure to have them checked out by your veterinarian, who can also recommend any supplements for joint and muscle building as well as food that would benefit your older dog.
Love Your Senior Dog All You Can
Whether you recently adopted a senior dog or you’ve had them since they were a puppy, they are a precious part of your life. Hold them in your lap, snuggle them in bed, and play games that require close physical contact – making you and your pup feel better.