Senior Dogs – Why Should They Exercise?

senior dog exerciseDogs, no matter their age, should exercise regularly to maintain their health and to enjoy a better quality of life on the whole. Equally, dogs in general, need the right nutrition, grooming, and regular medical check-ups to ensure a healthy existence. When dogs age, this can mean the difference between their living or dying.

In the best case scenario, when their dogs are puppies, owners define a good exercise routine for them to follow throughout their lives, making little adjustments along the way to fit new necessities and requirements.

Normally, as dogs get older, their exercise capability and needs change, and if you happen to adopt a dog that is already a senior, most probably you will not have enough information about its full health history and prior exercise routine. Thus, you must talk to a veterinarian before deciding on an exercise program for senior dogs.

The veterinarian will, most probably, perform a full physical exam on your dog before deciding what exercises are appropriate for it, because, even though exercise is crucial, some types of activity may not be good for senior dogs that present certain physical limitations.

But, why is it important for senior dogs to exercise? There are several reasons, and here we present the 3 main ones:

1. Exercise helps senior dogs keep a healthy body weight

Just as in humans, excess weight in senior dogs may bring about several serious health conditions. The excess of weight puts extra stress on older dogs’ hearts, and when this organ doesn’t function properly, other organs like the brain, lungs, liver, and kidneys, will suffer too.

In time, these conditions may become critical, so much that they threaten the lives of senior dogs.

2. Exercise helps delay the manifestation of osteoarthritis in senior dogs

Osteoarthritis is the degeneration of the joints, and it may appear in senior dogs, causing them lots of pain and discomfort. If senior dogs are overweight, the excess load over the joints can accelerate the condition.

Moderate exercise can help slow down the degeneration of the joints that have been attacked by osteoarthritis.

3. Exercise helps maintain mental health in senior dogs

As long as senior dogs remain active, the levels of oxygen and nutrients like glucose will remain optimum in the brain. The brain, just as any other organ in the body, needs good nutrition to function at its best.

Senior dogs require lots of special attention and care, and you must know exactly what will benefit them or cause them more harm than good in regards to exercise. Here’s what you should and shouldn’t do when dealing with senior dog exercise needs:

What you should do

– Talk to the veterinarian about your senior dog’s exercise plan. The vet will find out if your pet has a health condition that can be worsened by certain exercises but benefited by others. An exercise routine for senior dogs must be a safe one, with clearly established periods of time and regularity.

– If during the exercise routine, your dog changes its behavior, for example, it gets tired faster, coughs while exercising, or has problems breathing, call the vet immediately.

You will know it better than anyone else when your senior dog is not acting normal; thus, you are the best person to identify a possible serious problem. By detecting and treating it early, you may be saving your best friend’s life.

– Be patient with senior dogs. Many will try to keep up with their owners when exercising, since they are unable to identify their limit until it is too late. Slow down to their pace instead.

What you shouldn’t do

– Do not allow senior dogs to exercise for long periods of time outside under hot or humid conditions. In a few minutes, they may develop a serious health problem related to this type of weather.

– Do not force senior dogs to exercise. If they look tired or unwilling to move, give them a break.

Exercising with senior dogs can be a lot of fun for you as well as for them; you just have to learn to do it right so that it can be both enjoyable and beneficial for your buddy.

If you are looking for a place with valuable information regarding the care of senior dogs, visit our main older dogs page, the most complete online source of information about older dogs.

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