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Health & Wellness

Exercises for your older dog

Exercises for your older dog

Exercise is the very thing a dog needs to maintain their quality of life as they age. Remember when they were busy and active?

Think back to your dog's younger days, when they would race after frisbees and chase down a tossed ball. You just knew they were happy and healthy.

No matter how old they are, when a dog is active and stimulated it's good for their overall well-being: physically, mentally and emotionally. In fact, exercise is the very thing a dog needs to maintain their quality of life as they age.


What if they're out of shape?

If your dog has been off the 'training circuit' for a while, they aren't going to be ready to walk all the way downtown and back. Understandably, extreme exercise is not healthy (or desirable) for a dog that has been sedentary for a long time.

If they're overweight, it's especially hard on their ageing body - that extra weight is tough on stiff joints and sore muscles. Or they may have developed arthritis, heart disease, diabetes or hip dysplasia. Regardless, check with your vet before introducing them back to regular exercise.



Commit to a daily exercise routine, but since they're older, start off slowly. Take them for two short walks each day, starting with one or two blocks and add on as they get more comfortable with it. Warm them up for 5 minutes, walking at a leisurely pace, then walk briskly for 15-20 minutes and cool them down for another 5 minutes. This length of time does however depend on the type of dog. A short legged dog or toy breed dog cannot handle the same amount of exercise as a larger more naturally athletic dog. Also, keep in mind to be cautious about the temperature for Brachycephalic breeds.

Don't push them too hard. They'll likely tire more easily now that they're older. Plus, they'll want to please you and keep up with your pace, even though they might start to feel pain or get overheated and dehydrated. So keep an eye on them and watch for signs of discomfort, like favouring a leg or paw, being excessively out of breath or slowing down or stopping. If so, give your pooch a break, along with some water, love and encouragement.


Dog-friendly paddling is their kind of exercise.

Swimming is probably the best exercise for most ageing dogs. Canine swim therapy is a popular option for dogs with joint conditions, because it provides a good aerobic workout with a full range of motion while supporting their body and putting little weight on the joints.


Games? Toys? Kibble?

Another good option is to get your dog moving in the comfort of their own home. Take them down to the Rec room and get them playing with one of their at-home toys. Play 'Fetch-lite', 'Treasure Hunt' or 'Keep Away'. Or fill one of their Kongs with kibble and let them work away on it so that they can stand, exercise their jaw muscles and have a tasty treat at the same time. A snuffle mat where pieces of kibble can be hidden to be foraged is another great option. Fun at home will keep your senior dog active and they won't resort to just lying around when they're bored.

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