Making sure your dog stays active is an important responsibility that must be included as part of senior dog care. Many dog owners feel their older pets are too fragile to engage in physical activities; however, though they can’t run as fast or jump as high as they once did, senior dogs still need to walk, play or simply do something that gets them moving.
In some cases, of course, conditions such as osteoarthritis and hip dysplasia will limit a dog’s mobility, but that doesn’t mean you have to discard the idea of a workout or a training session altogether. You simply need to create a pain-free routine that suits your pooch best.
There are Several Ways to Keep Your Senior Dog Active
Encourage your older dog to engage in a mix of indoor and outdoor activities. You can start slowly but surely by tossing your dog a few treats. He or she’ll have playtime and exercise while enjoying small doses of doggie treats. It’s a win-win situation so long as you don’t go overboard with the treats!
Change the pattern of his or her play sessions. Roll a ball on a flat surface so that your dog can slowly retrieve it. Play a gentle tug-of-war game using one of their toys. Sprinkle a few dog biscuits around the room and have your pooch search for them. As long as the activity you choose doesn’t require sudden movements or twisting and jumping, it will be good for them.
Have him or her go slowly up and down a flight of stairs to loosen the muscles and flex the joints. This might be tough on small dogs like Chihuahuas, but it makes for a very effective workout.
If your dog is in no condition to climb stairs, set up ramps inside your home. Walking up and down ramps won’t strain them as much, and they may find it more comfortable to move around.
Don’t skip the regular walks, but don’t overdo them either. The key is keeping the walks short and tailored to your dog’s physical health. How do you determine what distance and pace is right for your pooch? Let your dog be your guide and, if in doubt, consult your veterinarian. Also note that dogs with arthritis usually find it easier to walk on grass rather than sidewalks, as the soft soil helps minimize the impact on his joints.
Let your dog join you as you jog or ride your bike. You may need to slow the pace so that he or she can keep up with you and, when you start this routine, keep the distance between the two of you at a minimum. You can gradually increase that distance over time, and decrease it again as they age.
Make swimming a part of your dog’s workout. Why? It is low-impact, easy on the muscles and joints and is painless. It also conditions your dog’s body and helps build strength, therefore making it therapeutic and relaxing. More importantly, your pooch is likely to enjoy it.
Allow your dog to play with other dogs from time to time. Just make sure things don’t get rough, especially if their playmates are younger or more energetic.
Sign him or her up for training sessions. It’s never too late for dogs to learn tricks! If he or she can handle the movements and positions that the training activities require, this can bring many benefits.
Use These Exercise Tips Too
For effective and gentle senior dog care, keep these training guidelines in mind:
- Before you start a new exercise or conditioning program, seek your veterinarian’s go-signal. During the checkup, ask for advice about the most appropriate activities for your older dog.
- Monitor and manage your pet’s nutrition. Make sure your dog is getting the protein he or she needs to engage in workout or training sessions.
- Take it easy on very hot or cold days. Senior dogs are highly sensitive to temperature, so you mustn’t push them too hard. Also, make sure he or she stays hydrated with lots of water.
- Have your pooch warm up and cool down for every exercise routine by beginning and ending slowly. Note that the older your dog, the longer it takes for them to warm up—about five to ten minutes—so you must be sure to set aside the time he or she needs for this. Warming up minimizes straining; cooling down flushes out the toxins.
Engaging your dog physically is the key to providing responsible senior dog care. With an appropriate set of activities and a smart approach, you can promote the health and longevity of your dear pet.
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