Tips for Walking Your Senior Dog

Even as he slows down, your senior dog still needs his daily walk.

It’s a fact of life: dogs slow down as they get older. Your dog may still have a glint of puppy in his eyes, but arthritis or other joint problems may curb his energy. But don’t let a little thing like age stand in the way of your dog’s health – he still needs a daily walk to help control his weight and maintain his health. Keep these tips in mind when walking your senior pooch.

The Importance of Exercise for Senior Dogs

Regular activity is still important, even though your dog becomes less active and energetic as he ages. The less your dog moves, the more his joints and muscles will ache. When your dog doesn’t use his muscles and joints for an extended period of time, they start to stiffen up, which is where a daily walk comes in handy.

Moving bodies are healthy bodies. Plus, long periods of immobility can increase your dog’s risk for developing arthritis and other musculoskeletal issues. The best way to keep your dog’s joints lubricated, his muscles supple, and his bones strong is through regular, gentle exercise. It will also help to support healthy circulation, reduce inflammation, boost his mood and improve his quality of life.

Tips for Walking an Older Dog

Is your dog in good enough shape for regular activity? Mobility problems such as osteoarthritis or musculoskeletal issues can slow down his step. If this is the case, please talk to your veterinarian who can recommend an alternative form of exercise. Wellness checks performed by a vet are especially important as your dog becomes a senior.

Once your vet gives you the thumbs up to walk your aging dog, here are some simple tips to follow:

  • Start slowly. If your dog hasn’t exercised for a while, make gradual changes so you don’t put excess strain on his aging muscles and joints.
  • Consider the conditions. Your senior dog can become more sensitive to heat or cold, so check the weather before you head out on your walk.
  • Feet protection. The pads on your dog’s feet may not be as strong as they once were. If you’re walking on hot asphalt, cold concrete, or rough terrain, slide his tender tootsies into a pair of booties to protect his feet.
  • Take a break. Senior dogs need more breaks, so don’t force your dog to walk farther than he is able to. If you notice he’s starting to struggle, take a break. Bring water along on your walk, especially during hot weather.
  • Pay attention. As you’re out for a walk, pay attention for any signs of change in your dog’s behavior or mobility. These could be the first sign of the problem and must be reported to your vet, who will reassess your exercise strategy if needed.

Because your dog is unique, so you’ll need to cater your dog’s exercise routine based on his ability and fitness level. Always watch for any changes in your dog’s mobility he continues to age, and stay up to date with vet visits to make sure he is in good enough health for regular walks.

Meet the Author: Amy Tokic

Amy Tokic is the Editor of Petguide.com, the flagship site to over 70 different pet communities, which offers pet parents a one-stop-info-shop for all things dog and cat related. Amy's been with PetGuide since the beginning, guided by the wisdom of her Shih Tzu mix and furry roommate, Oscar. Together, this pet power couple has their paw on the pulse of the pet industry, sniffing out trends, advice, news, tasty treat recipes and other tail-wagging stories.

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