Exercise is crucial for all dogs, but especially for senior dogs over the age of 7 if they are a small dog, or over age 6 for larger dogs. It’s important to remember however, that as dogs age and become seniors, it can be challenging to know how to appropriately exercise a senior dogs aching joints without doing more harm than good. We’ve compiled a list of tips to help your senior dog maintain an active lifestyle, while also keeping safe.
Keep Walks Short & Gentle with Older Dogs
Instead of one long walk that you and your furry friend may have been accustomed to, older dogs can struggle on longer walks and can easily wear themselves out trying to keep up. Instead, keep walks short and gentle. It’s much better for an older dog to go on several short walks rather than one long walk each day. Plus, if your dog’s bladder control is waning, it also gives them an opportunity to potty outside more often.
Keep Your Senior Dog’s Nails Well Trimmed
Long nails in senior dogs can exacerbate mobility issues because they reduce traction and make it harder for your dog to maintain their footing. If your dog is moving less, then it’s likely they are not wearing their nails down naturally, as often as they once did.
Professional nail trimming by a vet or groomer is always ideal, but not always practical. Some senior pet owners opt to trim nails on their own, which can be challenging without the right tools.
Prepare for the Weather with Your Senior Dog
Senior dogs are more sensitive to temperature fluctuations; they can easily become overheated in warmer temperatures, and chilled more easily in colder temperatures. During winter, it is important to keep your dog warm by dressing them in layers and protecting their paws from snow and ice. In summer, it’s best to avoid walking dogs during the heat of the day, but rather wait until the sun goes down or try to stick to shaded areas.
Try Low Impact Activities with Your Senior Dog
If your dog has arthritis or any mobility issues, it is recommended that your dog only engage in low impact exercises such as swimming, nose work games, puzzle toys or even obedience training. These types of activities can help mentally and physically stimulate your dog, and keep them healthy and active.
Invest in Appropriate Senior Dog Gear
As your dog ages, they may suffer from weakness in the legs and joints, which can cause them to stumble and lose their footing while out and about. A harness with back support allows you to easily lift your dog and provide assistance when necessary.
If your older dog is not as aware of their surroundings as they once were, or if they have a hard time hearing, then it is important to invest in the right gear to keep them safe. A smart leash can help safely stop your dog if they suddenly get scared or run from you.