Older Dogs Exercise

One of our readers asked: What exercises should I start out with an older dog? My dog is 12 years old and my other dog is 3 years old.

Gentle walking is the best exercise for dogs of an advanced age.  Start with a 10 minute walk once or twice a day and increase the time by about 5 minutes every week or so, so that you are eventually walking your pooch 30-40 minutes per day.  If your doggy is struggling with these walks, you can try splitting the exercise into 2 walks of 15-20 mins each.

If you live in a warm climate, avoid walking the dog in the middle of the day, when it is hot.  Instead, choose a cooler time, such as early in the morning or at dusk.  If you live in a very cold climate, take it slow initially as it may take a little while for an elderly dog's muscles to warm up.  If your dog suffers from arthritis, it is a good idea to have him/her assessed by a vet to see if he/she needs arthritis treatment to increase comfort and make exercise easier.  The signs of arthritis have been covered in a previous article.  Some gentle physio such as slowly flexing and stretching your dog's hips and knees for a few minutes prior to exercise may help when it comes to elderly pooches.

Swimming may also be a good exercise option for all dogs, although you should ensure that the water is not too cold as very cold water may cause muscles and joints to seize up.

As you also have a younger dog who probably needs more exercise, you could try keeping the elderly dog on a leash and walking slowly while taking the young dog off leash (in an off-leash park of course).  Try also playing fetch with the younger dog to ensure he/she gets more exercise.

Do you have a senior dog? What type of exercise do you feel works best? Tell us about it in the comments!

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