Keeping An Older Dog Active

Is your canine companion starting to slow down a bit? Fido may have started going grey around the muzzle. Or perhaps you’ve noticed that he just isn’t as interested in playing or chasing squirrels these days. It’s only natural to expect your canine buddy to slow down over time. After all, we all do. However, you don’t want your furry best friend to become a couch potato. In this article, a local London, ON vet offers some insight on keeping a senior dog active.

What Is The Best Exercise For Senior Dogs?

Ask your vet for specific advice on this. This is also a good topic to check in about regularly, as your pet’s workout needs will change as he ages. There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to this one, except, of course, for walking. Dogs are all unique. You’ll need to consider Fido’s age, size, weight, health, and personal likes and dislikes. Your vet will be able to advise you about what is and is not suitable for your pet.

That said, there are a few general rules of thumb to follow. In general, you’ll probably want to avoid encouraging Fido to jump or stand on his back legs very much, simply because this puts a lot of stress on his bones and joints. You’ll also need to be very careful to avoid over-exerting your dog. Our canine pals are extremely devoted, to the point that they will drive themselves to exhaustion to please us. Keep a close eye on Fido, and watch for signs of fatigue, such as panting and lagging behind. The moment your four-legged bestie starts to look tired, it’s time to end doggy playtime. Let Fido recuperate with some water, a good nap, and, of course, some belly rubs.

Is Swimming Good For Older Dogs?

Yes and no. On the plus side, it can be a wonderful no-impact cardio workout, which is great for keeping Fido fit. Because the water will support Fido’s weight, it’s easy on his bones and joints. If your furry pal has always enjoyed swimming, then this may be a pawesome option.

Of course, there are a few caveats. Swimming isn’t right for every dog. Very small dogs may be able to paddle around a kiddie pool, but can easily get swept away by even the mildest current. Dogs with long backs, like dachshunds and Corgis, also aren’t very well suited to the water. This also isn’t necessarily a good option for a brachy, simply because they are so prone to breathing issues.

Just keep your pet’s safety in mind. Only let him swim in safe, shallow areas. Avoid spots with strong currents, heavy wakes, and/or steep drop-offs. You’ll also need to keep a very close eye on your pet. Never leave your dog alone near water, even for just a minute!


How Do I Make My Older Dog More Active?

No matter what age your pup is, he’ll need some sort of activity to stay healthy. Daily walks are the go-to here for most pups. Let your furry pal pick his pace, and take him in when he gets tired.

You can still take your pooch to parks or on new trails. Fido may very well still enjoy meeting other dogs. If you go to a dog park, check out the dogs already there and make sure they are all friendly and well-behaved.

Playing is also fine. Your canine buddy will still have moments when he wants to let his inner puppy out. Go ahead and toss a ball or toy for him to fetch if he wants. You may want to pick toys made for older dogs, though. These may be quite soft, so they’ll be easy on your canine pal’s mouth. Others may light up or make noise, which will make them easier for him to track.

Also, be sure to choose safe areas. Ideally, use a spot with soft grass or carpet. That will not only help give your pooch good traction, but also provide a bit of cushion if he falls. Avoid playing or exercising your pooch near hazards like pools, stairs, roads, and fireplaces.

Why Is Exercise Important For Older Dogs?

Fido will lose muscle mass as he ages. He may also become a bit chubby. Keeping your furry friend active will help reduce or delay the effects of common bone/joint issues, such as arthritis. It’s also great for his heart, lungs, and digestion. Ask your London, ON vet for more information.

How Do I Entertain My Senior Dog?

Fido won’t be as active or playful as he once was. You’ll want to start focusing more on providing mental enrichment and stimulation and less on burning off those zoomies.However, when your pet seems a bit more inclined to nap, you’ll want to try something else.

Here are some suggestions:

Teach Fido New Tricks. Whoever said you can’t teach an old dog new tricks may have been going about it wrong. Just like people, Fido never has to stop learning. Teaching your pet simple tricks is a great way to both provide mental enrichment and give him a sense of purpose. Dogs look really proud of themselves when they nail something new!

Offer Puzzle Games: You can find all sorts of fun game-oriented dog toys for Fido these days. Many involve having him solve a ‘puzzle’ in order to get a treat.

Snuffle Mats: This is kind of a condensed version of a scavenger hunt. You sprinkle bits of kibble through the mat, and your pooch will entertain himself by sniffing them all out.

Scavenger Hunts: Fido’s cute nose is very astute. Having him sniff out treats and snacks is a great way to brighten up your pet’s day and keep him entertained.

Dog TV: There are plenty of options for this. You can even subscribe to channels for your pet to watch. This is a great option for when your canine pal stays home alone.

Paw Buttons: These may very well be the most groundbreaking pet invention of the past few years. You can actually teach your canine buddy to tell you if he wants a walk, a treat, or cuddles. (Note: Some dogs pick this up more quickly than others; results may vary.)

Why Is My Senior Dog Restless?

Sometimes older dogs get a bit restless. There are a few possible reasons for that. One would be that your pet is simply bored or restless, and needs more activity or playtime. However, dogs also may do this because they are feeling pain or discomfort. Contact your London, ON vet if you notice your pet seems to be doing a lot of pacing and/or is constantly getting up or down.

Conclusion: Your dog will still need proper activity to stay fit and healthy as he ages. Keep your canine pal active with gentle activities, such as walking and swimming. You can also provide mental enrichment through games, toys, and training.

Make An Appointment With Your London, ON Animal Hospital

Do you have questions about your older dog’s activity needs? Please do not hesitate to contact us. As your London, ON  animal clinic, we are dedicated to offering top-notch care and great service.

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