Do you have an elder member of the family who’s been with you through thick and thin? Someone with years of wisdom, a big heart and… four paws? You’re certainly not alone.
There’s something incredibly special about our senior dog community. And while older dogs may be less likely to do casual Parkour than their younger counterparts, they need regular exercise just the same. But how do you help your dog to stay active when they’re dealing with joint stiffness, and are slowing down and showing their years? Here are some tips on exercising older dogs, to keep them active for life...
Take your dog on small walks at regular intervals
When your dog starts to slow down and show signs of joint stiffness, it can be difficult to know what to do. Should you stop walking them altogether? Do you need to switch to a totally new routine?
Many pet parents in this situation begin to walk their dogs less frequently. Unfortunately, this can do a lot more harm than good. Consistent and moderate exercise is best for dogs of all ages. For older dogs, though, it becomes essential. If your dog goes without exercise for most of the week, they risk losing muscle tone and overall fitness. They’ll then find it harder to remain active and mobile.
If you follow up periods of inactivity with weekend meadow marathons, you really risk over-exerting your canine companion and injuring them. At the very least, they are likely to become seriously grumpy.
A far better approach is to take your dog on shorter walks more often. So, how long should you walk your older dog for exactly? Thirty minutes a day may be a good rule of thumb. But if this seems to tire your dog out, you can experiment with shorter strolls, perhaps twice daily.
The key is that you need to keep your senior canine companion moving consistently. Even short and easy walks can help to promote mobility, joint health and wellbeing. At the end of each walk, your dog should be wagging their tail and loving life – whether old or young. Not looking at you like an ultramarathon runner crossing the finish line.
Signs to ease up and slow down
Here are a few tell-tale signs that you should think about shortening your older dog’s walks, or easing up the pace:
- Your dog seems exhausted after a walk, instead of moderately fatigued but happy
- They no longer seem enthusiastic about going for walks in the first place
- They noticeably lose energy and enthusiasm part of the way through
- They seem especially lethargic for an extended period afterwards
- They become irritable during, or immediately after, walks
Don’t let your dog become a couch potato as they age
While over-exerting your older dog is a definite no-no, letting them lounge around all day isn’t the way forward, either. Regular exercise can help combat and slow the aging process in both dogs and humans. When you lead your dog through a well-balanced workout, you’ll be helping to improve their muscle tone, support their joints, and promote good bone density.
This isn’t about turning your canine companion into Arnold ‘Schnauzernegger’, either. It’s about giving them the best quality of life, day-by-day. Most importantly of all, being physically active makes dogs happy. Games of fetch and regular walks are a big part of how your dog bonds with you and stays engaged with the world around them.
They really are a lot like us, after all. It’s all a matter of finding the right balance between rest and activity to keep your dog healthy and happy.
Look into low-impact activities like swimming and canine yoga
One thing these activities have in common (other than promoting excellent canine posture and well-balanced chakras) is that they’re low impact. As dogs age, activities that can give them a real workout while minimising joint strain become invaluable. This is because low-impact exercise can strengthen weak areas and improve health, while keeping injury risk to a minimum.
Realise that you’ll need to adjust your dog’s routine as they age
There’s every reason to keep your older dog active, and keep the time-honoured traditions of walkies and games of fetch alive. At the same time, though, it’s important to realise that you’ll need to adjust these activities as your dog nears retirement age and starts grumbling about his reading glasses. Or the canine equivalent.
Pay attention to the signals your senior dog is giving you. If he seems very tired after his daily walks, try out a shorter route. If he’s not so eager about running to fetch the frisbee, try throwing it a shorter distance away. You can – and should – keep most of your dog’s favourite activities going throughout their life. Just adjust the intensity as needed.
Manage your dog’s weight to keep them mobile
As dogs age, their joints naturally become less supple and resilient. While regular, moderate-intensity exercise can do a world of good – and while powerful joint-support supplements like our YuMOVE Joint Care PLUS can be incredibly beneficial – managing your dog’s weight is a must.
Every extra pound your dog has on their frame puts further stress on their joints and causes them to tire more easily. Following the recommended nutritional guidelines for your dog’s breed and consulting your vet for a weight loss plan, if needed, can massively benefit their mobility. May the walkies long continue!
At YuMOVE, we believe that age doesn’t need to stop your dog from thriving and living their best life. As well as following vet-recommended activity guidelines, consider giving your older dog YuMOVE Joint Care PLUS – our triple-action joint support for stiffer, older dogs.