How to handle exercising, and caring for, a senior dog – 6 tips to keep in mind
Remember that rambunctious puppy of yours that never tired of running around outside? Chances are, as she’s gotten older and entered the final years of her life, her thirst for exercise has dramatically reduced.
Not only do older dogs begin to lose energy, their bodies begin to fail them too. Joints ache, bodies get sore, and the morning walk begins to lose its sheen.
That said, exercise is still important for seniors – it just needs to be managed correctly. Here are a few pointers to help make sure you do just that – and a few other things to bear in mind as well.
Tip #1: Consider swimming
Swimming is a low-impact exercise, and it’s a great way to help her get some yards under the belt without hurting the joints too much. If you have a pool in your house – great. If not, research swimming pools in your area that cater to dogs. Start tapering off the walking and upping the time she spends in the water.
Tip #2: Make rewards easier to come by
We often talk about the importance of making your dog work for her meal. The idea is that it shouldn’t simply be served her food on a platter. A spot of exercise beforehand is often ideal. But as a dog ages, she naturally begins to struggle to meet the demands of this old routine. In response, give her a bit of a break. Take a meal to her (sans walk) if she doesn’t seem in the mood for the outdoors…
Tip #3: That said, don’t neglect walks altogether
Even as dogs get older, they still appreciate being out in the open air. Consider shorter walks or simple exercises in the yard. Monitor her afterwards to see how she’s feeling, and speak to a vet about her individual case if you’re unsure.
Tip #4: Invest in supplements
Joint health is crucial as a dog ages, and vets have all manner of medicines that might strike your fancy. Speak to your local vet about the right joint supplement to make your dog’s life easier as she ages.
Tip #5: Remember – rest and relaxation are key
Young pups and adult dogs need stimulation in every area of their life, but seniors just aren’t as bothered – and that’s fine! Make home life as cozy and comfortable as possible. If your dog is having trouble controlling her bladder, don’t punish her for this. Rather, respect the rules of the game and the fact that she’s not the same dog she was even three years ago.
Tip #6: Dogs deteriorate quickly without the right care Any dog ten years or older is well into its advanced years. In fact, larger breeds like the German Shepherd often don’t live beyond eleven. For that reason, you need to be tightly attuned to your animal’s needs as she ages. Make a note of how she’s acting, her mood and her appetite. If anything seems amiss, schedule an appointment with the vet immediately. It’s better to go too soon than too late.