• Vets at Home

Exercise and the older dog

We all know that exercise if vital to good health. Exercise promotes blood flow to the tissues, drainage of lymph, improved mental acuity and wellbeing, weight reduction, better strength and endurance, promotes cardiovascular health and better sleep. The same goes for our pets and our oldies do need to 'move it or loose it' just like us. However, as with many things, more exercise isn't always better.

So what is the best exercise for our older dogs? And how much exercise should older dogs be doing? The answer to these questions is - it depends. Though there are a few tips to working out what is best for your senior dog.


What type of exercise?

The best type of exercise to do is one that you enjoy (there are studies on this). Same goes for your dog. So if your dog would prefer a leisurely off leash stroll and sniff rather than an on-leash speed march around the block you may need to accommodate their needs. The exception to this is the ball addicts. Ball chasing and other sudden twisting, turning and high impact exercise can cause injury, pain and lameness and is not appropriate for old dogs.


How much exercise?

More exercise is definitely not always better. Regular shorter walks are always better than one big walk on the weekend. Ideally 2 shorter walks a day.


How long should you walk for?

This depends on your dogs level of fitness and any pre-existing injuries. If your dog is tired or sore after returning home from their walk (especially following a short rest), then you have walked too long or the exercise has been too vigorous and you need to cut it back. You will need to keep monitoring your dog and modify their exercise duration and intensity appropriately.


Helping your pet enjoy their exercise

Your pet will be able to get more out of their walks if joint restrictions, muscle knots and joint pain is addressed. A biomechanics consultation with help to address physical issues that will reduce your pets ability to enjoy their exercise. You may also be given some stretches to keep your pet supple or rehab exercises to build strength in weak muscle groups.