Photo  by dagnyg /  CC BY-NC-ND

Exercise for Old Bones

Just because senior dogs aren’t puppies doesn’t mean that they don’t need exercise.  

On one of my last visits to my parents' house, I noticed that our 12-year-old Chocolate Labrador, Joy, was really having difficulty moving her hips. That likely means she won’t get much exercise unless we help. For others out there who have senior dogs, here are some good tips on how to help them get exercise in, without stressing or hurting their old bones and joints.

  • Walks: For older dogs, taking walks is still a good option to get exercise. However, your animal may not have the energy for a long walk. You may need to start taking a couple of walks a day, but shortening the length of each one. Basically, keep the same amount of walking time, but break it down to two or three walks per day.
  • Swimming: If your pooch likes to swim, this is a great way for him/her to get exercise even in their old age. Swimming allows your pet to move his body without having to put all of his weight onto his joints and bones. Note that your animal should never go swimming without human supervision. As I mentioned above, your canine does not have as much energy as he used to. He also may need help getting out of the pool.
  • Fetch: This can still be a fun game, but it needs to be safe. Your pet should not be running on slippery surfaces, such as hardwood floors or linoleum, where he could fall. Also, don’t be surprised if your animal would prefer to walk to the ball rather than run. That’s okay. Moving is moving!
  • Play dates: Nothing will get a pet motivated to move like a playmate like him. So ask a friend over with their pooch. Just be sure their energy levels are somewhat matched, or a youngster will too quickly wear out your senior pal.

For more ideas on how to keep your senior canine active, talk with your veterinarian.

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