As our dogs enter their golden years, we want to them to have the best possible quality of life. Of the many things that dogs love, being outdoors to experience fresh air, exercise, and interaction with new people and animals becomes harder for them with advanced age. Sometimes it’s hard to know what your older dog can take when it comes to being outdoors and exercise.
But you don’t have to give up the outdoors when your pooch gets gray in the face. Instead, focus on how he’s tolerating the exercise, don’t let him exert himself the way he did when he was a puppy, and bring along plenty of resources if he tuckers out.
Benefits of Exercise in Older Dogs
Like humans, an aging dog’s metabolism slows down, as do the functions of her organs, so a regular exercise program is necessary to maintain stability and proper functioning. Giving your dog enough exercise makes it easier for her to sleep at night, helps her lose a few pounds if she needs to, and aids in the fight against muscular degeneration. It’s also critical to maintaining healthy blood flow and bowel function in your older pet.
Exercising an Older Dog
The best rule of thumb for exercising your older dog is to let her run around—play Frisbee, swim in the lake, retrieve the ball—until she starts to wear herself out. She’ll likely be good at knowing when to take a break; for the most part, older dogs know their limits, and will stop to rest when they feel tired. You might also want to get your dog a vitamin or mineral supplement to keep her body healthy enough for exercise.
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How Best to Travel
When traveling with an older dog it is important to remember that they need lots of snacks and fresh water, so be sure to pack plenty. You’ll also want to make sure that there are places for your dog to get out of the sun, particularly if it’s really sunny or humid where you live. You might want to consider a carriage, like our City Car Pet Stroller, if you’re worried about finding a shady spot for your pet to catch his breath. That way, if your dog tires out, you can put him in the stroller without running the risk of him continuing to overheat.
What You Can Do to Make Exercise Easier
Like an older person, your older dog might have aches and pains, making it harder for her to stay active. To help, you can offer your dog a massage or stretch out her legs. You might also want to work with your vet to create an exercise plan that ensures a healthy level of exercise for your elderly pet. Knowing when your pooch should calm down can help you stop him when she’s reached her limit. Additionally, the vet can examine your dog to see if she needs any special precautions or considerations in a workout plan, be to look out for stages of arthritis.
If your dog is a sporting breed, he still needs more exercise than brachycephalic breeds, like pugs or English bulldogs, in his later years. For dogs with spinal conditions or arthritis, you might consider a type of exercise that won’t hurt his joints, like swimming, which provides low impact exercise. Remember: if your dog is hurting, don’t make him continue. Instead, place him back in his stroller and take him home.
If he seems to be doing okay, start out at a short distance and increase it if he seems to be liking it. A good rule-of-thumb for easing her into exercise is by starting out your regimen by walking your dog 10 to 15 minutes per day and work up to one to two hours at least three times per week. The next day, if your pooch is sore or seems to be in pain, give him a day off or only take him out every other day.
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