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Exercising An Older Dog

April 15, 2024

Is your dog starting to show signs of aging? Fido may have developed some grey hairs around his muzzle. Or maybe you’ve observed a decrease in his enthusiasm for playing or chasing squirrels lately. It’s only to be expected that your canine friend will lose steam as he ages. We all do! However, it’s important to ensure that your furry bestie stays active and doesn’t become a couch potato. A Peterborough, ON veterinarian provides valuable advice on how to keep an older dog active in this informative article.

Do Old Dogs Need Exercise?

Yes! As your furry companion gets older, he may lose muscle mass. He may also gain some weight. Keeping your pet active can help lessen or delay the symptoms of common bone/joint problems, such as arthritis. It’s beneficial for his cardiovascular system, respiratory health, and digestive system as well. Ask a veterinarian for further details.

Is Swimming Beneficial For Older Dogs?

It can be. Swimming is an effective cardio workout, and, for the right dog, can be a perfect way to keep your furry friend in shape. If Fido has always loved swimming, then this could be a great option. Since the water provides support for Fido’s weight, it is gentle on his bones and joints.

Of course, there are a few things to keep in mind. Not every dog is suited for swimming. Small dogs may struggle to stay afloat and could be carried away by even the gentlest current. Some dog breeds, such as dachshunds and Corgis, are not well adapted for swimming, because of their long backs. This also may not be the best choice for a brachycephalic breeds, due to their susceptibility to respiratory problems.

Always prioritize your pet’s safety. Only let your four-legged pal swim in safe and shallow areas. Steer clear of areas with strong currents, heavy wakes, and/or steep drop-offs. Also,  monitor your pet closely.  Don’t ever leave your dog alone around water, even for a short period of time.

Ask your Peterborough, ON veterinarian for personalized guidance on this matter. It is important to regularly check in on this topic, as your pet’s exercise requirements will change over time.

How Do I Keep Fido From Getting Bored?

Fido’s energy levels and playfulness will naturally decrease over time. It is important to shift your focus towards providing mental enrichment and stimulation, rather than solely burning off excess energy.

Here are a few recommendations:

Snuffle Mats: This is a tiny version of a scavenger hunt; you scatter small pieces of kibble across the mat. Your furry friend can amuse himself by using his sense of smell to locate each one.

Scavenger Hunts: Fido has a very impressive sense of smell. Letting your pooch sniff out treats and snacks can bring joy to his day and provide him with top-notch doggy entertainment.

TV: Did you know you can subscribe to channels for your pet to enjoy? This is an excellent choice for when your furry friend is left home alone.

Professional Paw Buttons: These are a significant advancement in pet technology, perhaps one of the most important ones in recent years. Dogs can learn to use these to communicate their desires for a walk, a treat, or some cuddle time. (Your mileage may vary.) 

Training: Whoever claimed that it is impossible to teach older dogs new tricks might have been approaching the situation in the wrong way. Just as with humans, Fido can continue to learn and grow. Teaching your pet basic tricks can be a wonderful way to stimulate his mind and give them a sense of fulfillment. Dogs are always adorably proud of themselves when they successfully accomplish something new!

Provide Puzzle Games: Nowadays, a wide variety of entertaining game-oriented dog toys are available for your furry friend. Many tasks require Fido to solve a ‘puzzle’ in order to receive a treat.

How Can I Help Fido Become More Active?

Regardless of your pup’s age, he’ll need regular physical activity to maintain his overall health. Regular walks are essential for most dogs. Allow your pet to go at his own speed, and bring him in when he begins to show signs of fatigue.

Fido might still like exploring and socializing with other dogs. You can continue to bring your dog to parks or explore new trails. Safety first, though. When visiting a dog park, take a minute to observe the dogs already present and make sure they are friendly and well-behaved.

Playing is also fine. Your furry friend will still have moments when he wants to embrace his playful side. By all means, go ahead and toss a ball or toy for him to fetch. You may want to choose toys that are designed for more mature dogs. These might be soft, so they won’t hurt your dog’s mouth. Some may have lights or sound effects, making them easier for Fido to locate.

If possible, choose a location with carpet or soft grass for doggy playtime. Not only will this help your pooch get traction, but it can also absorb some impact if he were to fall. Avoid spots with potential hazards like pools, stairs, roads, and fireplaces.

Why Is My Older Dog Acting Restless?

Occasionally, older dogs may experience some restlessness. There are several potential explanations for that. One reason could be that your pet is just bored or antsy and needs more playtime or activity. However, it’s crucial to understand that dogs may exhibit this behavior due to experiencing pain or discomfort. If Fido is frequently pacing or constantly getting up and down, contact your vet.

What Exercise Is Most Beneficial For Older Dogs?

That varies from pup to pup, and will depend on various factors, such as Fido’s age, size, weight, health, and personal preferences. Consulting with a qualified veterinarian will provide you with expert guidance on what is appropriate for your beloved pet.

With that being said, there are a few general guidelines to keep in mind.

It’s best to discourage Fido from excessive jumping or standing on his back leg, as it can strain his bones and joints. It is also important to avoid pushing your dog too hard. Dogs are incredibly loyal and will go to great lengths to make us happy, even if it means pushing themselves to the limit. Be on the lookout for signs of tiredness, such as excessive panting and falling behind. If your furry friend starts to appear fatigued, it’s time to end doggy playtime.

Conclusion: it is important to make sure your dog is getting regular physical activity as he grows older. Ensure your furry friend stays engaged and stimulated with low-impact exercises like walking and swimming. Additionally, you can promote mental stimulation by incorporating games, toys, and training into their routine. Just be sure to consult your vet on this.

Schedule An Appointment With Your Local Peterborough, ON Animal Hospital

Are you seeking guidance regarding the activity needs of your older dog? Feel free to reach out to us at any time. With our expertise and commitment to excellence, we strive to provide exceptional care and outstanding service at our Peterborough, ON animal clinic.