Wondering how to exercise a senior dog?
Check out our ultimate guide with tips to help keep your older dog active and healthy well into his elderly years!
In this article, I will cover what you need to know how to properly exercise your senior dog.
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What age does a dog become a senior?
If you’ve read my previous posts, then you’ve surely heard about my beloved dog Baby who has now passed away. Baby was an arthritic senior dog when I adopted her.
So today, I will share many of my personal tips and tricks on how I exercised Baby.
The saddest part about having a dog is that they tend to age a lot faster than we do!
Oh, wouldn’t it be amazing if our dogs could live as long as us?
According to veterinarians, when a dog becomes a senior depends on two factors—size and breed.
As a general rule of thumb, larger dog breeds tend to have shorter lifespans than small to medium sized dog breeds.
- So, a small dog such as a Bichon Frise may reach their senior years at the age of 9 to 10 years old.
- A medium sized dog breed can be considered a senior at around 8 to 10 years old.
- A large dog breed can be considered a senior at 6 to 9 years old.
- While an extra large (Giant) dog breed, like the Great Dane, can be considered a senior at just 5 to 8 years old.
Is Exercise good for Old dogs?
As dogs get older their muscles start to weaken and in general, so does their entire body.
As any animal ages, their metabolic system may not be functioning as efficiently as it once did and so exercise is as important as it is for younger pups. You just need to adjust your expectations and the way you help Fido get a workout.
How many hours of exercise does a dog need?
I always have clients ask me “how many hours of exercise does my dog need?”
There is no definite answer to this question. Every dog is different, and every dog will have a different lifestyle and different pace.
- If you’ve got a senior dog who has severe muscle aches and arthritis then they will require minimum exercise.
- Whereas if you have a senior dog who still has a lot of energy, then you can choose to walk them for 45 minutes to an hour.
The important thing is to let your dog be your guide.
Like people, your older dog may have a great day with minimal aches and pains, and will want to stay outside walking longer. Then he’ll have days where he just wants to take a quick stroll around the yard and spend the rest of the afternoon lounging around.
If you notice he has pep in his step, go ahead and take the longer route. Just make sure your “longer route” is still short enough to get him back home quickly if you notice he’s feeling wiped out all of the sudden.
Choosing the Right Exercises for Your Senior Dog
As dogs grow older, their mobility becomes more and more limited. This means that many senior pups won’t be able to run or jump as they used to.
So, it’s important to choose senior-friendly-exercises that will keep your geriatric pooch fit-as a fiddle.
Here’s tip #1 I used for Baby.
Low-intensity swimming is the first on my list of must-do senior dog exercises.
So, senior dogs are going to experience joint and muscle pain. In addition, many senior dogs may already have arthritis.
Allowing your dog to walk around or slowly swim in warm or cool water will ensure that the water takes away most pressure from their joints.
Exercising your dog in the water may also enable your dog to move more and therefore increase their cardiovascular health.
Fun Ways to Exercise a Senior Dog both Physically and Mentally
When my dog hit 14 to 15 years old, things started getting a lot more difficult for her. She gradually became slower and as such less active.
Remember, you should never stop doing fun things with your dog!
They really want to also do fun things with you—but they just can’t do it as well as they used to! Walking your senior dog for 20 minutes each walk can be a great way to help keep them healthy.
But, if you want to do more than that then here’s a list of fun things you can do with a senior pooch!
- Take them out for a low-intensity swim! Look into hydrotherapy pools for dogs
- If they can, then take them for a hike or camping!
This will make things more fun and interesting for your dog.
For older dogs who can’t handle long hikes, take a drive to a new dog-friendly park. When you get there, keep your exploring close to the car (or campsite, if you choose to pitch a tent). That way, he still gets the thrill of new sights and smells without the stress of keeping up with an intense hike.
- Keep them mentally stimulated! Teach them simple tricks. You absolutely can teach an old dog new tricks!
- I always played the “Go-find-it” game with Baby! I hid a piece of her favorite treat around the house and told her to go-find-it! She used to love this!
- If your dog doesn’t get car sick, then take them for some fun car rides! Let them stick their nose out the window and enjoy the breeze!
Should You Walk a Dog with Arthritis
You should absolutely walk a dog with arthritis!
It’s a fabulous way to exercise a senior dog! Just make sure that walking is kept to a minimal.
Remember the tips from above: stick close to home (or your car) and be vigilant about changes in your dog’s energy levels.
Alternatively, I always recommend hydrotherapy as it eases joint pain and pressure.
How Much Exercise is Too Much for a Senior Dog
Again, there’s no definitive answer to this question.
Every dog is different and is at a different stage of life. You should never push a senior dog to do too much exercise as this can cause discomfort and long-term pain.
If your senior dog goes lame, limps or seems like he’s in pain, then this is a good enough indicator that would let you know you’ve over-exercised your senior dog.
Just Because They’re Old Doesn’t Mean They Don’t Love To Excercise
I think as pet owners one of the biggest problems we might face is ignoring or dog as they reach their golden days. We don’t want to ignore our dogs, but sometimes life gets in the way and we unconsciously do forget that they still love doing fun activities with us!
Don’t worry I was at fault for this too!
Remember, exercising with your senior dog can be a great way to keep them happy and keep you happy!
Not only do you strengthen your bond with them, but you also increase their longevity.