Pet Portrait Artist Julie Palmer

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health and fitness

Walking Your Older Dog


Your dog has reached its golden years. He or she is no longer the active or agile companion s/he once was. While it is true older dogs do slow down, do not let them become a slave to sleep. Instead of letting sleeping dogs lie, encourage your animal to exercise and play. In doing so, you are helping your pet.


Maintaining some form of a physical exercise regime is essential. It is beneficial if you wish to help your dog

• Maintain his or her health. Exercise will help in the reduction of age-related problems. Exercising joints keeps them from becoming dysfunctional.

• Retain vitality

• Encourage mental acuity and interest. A walk is a great way of restoring your dog’s
interest in the world. New scents have a way of bringing out the puppy in an older dog.

• Keeps the weight down. An overweight dog, senior or junior, suffer from unnecessary health problems. You do not want to complicate any existing health issues by adding excess stress. Obese dogs are more prone to such things as heart problems. Extra weight can increase the difficulty of walking, placing extra weight on the joints and exasperating such things as arthritis.

Starting Off

Sharing a walk or playing with our older dog does differ from romping with a younger canine. You will have to make sure you and your dog understand the need for certain adjustments.
This is particularly true if your animal already suffers from certain issues surrounding mobility. If your animal already has such problems as arthritic joints, hip dysplasia or other similar diseases check with your vet before you embark upon an exercise regime. This will make sure you are not going to exasperate any existing physical conditions.

The Initial Plan

From the beginning, you need to be aware of the limitations of your dog. Be sure you begin the exercise program in consultation with a vet or specialist. Be very aware of what the experts stress are the limitations placed on your particular animal. Not all senior dogs have the same abilities. Some are more capable of walking longer distances than others; some can engage in a more active lifestyle than others.

Try to hear what your dog is telling to you. Many canines know their limits. They know just how far they can walk or run. Listen to what your dog is telling you. Pay attention to it and make changes to your expectations.

Also be aware that some dogs will do anything to keep their person happy. They want to be with their owner so much they will ignore the onset of pain. In doing so, the dog will push its physical boundaries. Going beyond the reserves can cause further damage.

With these thoughts in mind, consider the following suggestions.

• Warm up with your dog before you embark on any type of exercise. This may include gentle stimulation of the joints. Rub the legs before any strenuous exercise. Rub the entire dog down briskly to stimulate the circulatory system.

• If you are going for a walk, do start off slowly. Increase the pace gradually. Keep it in tune with your dog’s abilities.

• If your dog is not used to exercise, do not take him or her for an overlong walk. This is both in terms of time and distance. If you are just embarking on this journey, try to increase distance and time gradually.

• If your dog indicates any signs of physical discomfort, stop.

• Bring along treats and water. Also consider driving somewhere so, if there are problems, you can drive the animal back.

• Be sure to bring your cell phone in case of a possible emergency.

• Avoid taking the animal out in inclement weather. If it too hot, too cold or pouring down rain, leave the dog at home. Alternatively, arrange to do another activity indoors.

Activities For You And Your Older Citizen

Your senior dog may still be able to do what a younger dog does. You may only have to adjust the length of involvement and the level of intensity. Possible activities vary. Some are traditional

• Take a walk or hike. Start off slowly and keep the distance down. Choice softer surfaces - ones that do not jar joints or irritate paws.

• Jog. Be mindful of distance, surface and the difference between your speed and that of your dogs.

• Indulge in a game of fetch or catch. Make allowances for arthritic joints. Throw the balls lower. Do more ground balls. In the case of poor or fewer teeth, substitute a soft ball for the old harder ones.

• If your dog is fond of it, take him or her swimming. This low impact exercise is great for the sore limbs of senior dogs.

• If you want a fun day out, take your favorite canine to a doggy park. Watch your pet does not overdo it. Also be mindful other dogs do not bully your canine. Some animals sense the inherent weakness of a senior dog and push the animal around. This can result in injury to your dog.

• There are also various games you can play inside and outside your home. A quite game of chase-me, chase-me, keepaway or hide-and-seek is recommended. You may also prefer to wrestle or indulge in other forms of rough housing. Do so. Just be mindful of the animal’s age.

Following these suggestions should help you and your pet enjoy these golden years.

Article provided by Eric Kuback of Oh My Dog Supplies, check out our complete collection of memory foam dog beds online.


All images are copyright 2001 to 2018 Julie Palmer. Portrait images must not be reproduced in any form without the express permission of the copyright holder.

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