Studies show that 40% of dogs (a total of about 17 million in the United States alone), are overweight. If you walk your dog just 30 minutes a day, both you and your dog will meet national recommendations for heart health. Unfortunately, as older dogs begin to age, their mobility is likely to decline. But this doesn’t mean that senior dogs don’t require daily exercise. In fact, maintaining an active lifestyle could help decrease their chances of developing other common health problems, such as muscle loss and arthritis. Walking is the perfect exercise routine since it is not too strenuous, but still promotes both physical and mental benefits. Before you leash up your senior dog and stroll through the neighborhood, keep these walking tips in mind!
If regular walks are a new exercise routine for your senior dog, get the green light from your vet first! It’s always a good idea to have a complete physical examination before starting any new exercise routine – and walking is no exception. Your vet will be able to access your dog’s condition and help you come up with an ideal walking schedule that’s best suited for your pup.
Like us, dogs can over exert themselves when exercising. This is why it’s essential to take it slow for our senior dogs in order to avoid injuries. When walking, be sure to start on a flat surface (like a neighborhood sidewalk as oppose to a hiking trail) and slowly increase the distance and/or pace over time. Allow your dog to take as many “sniff” breaks as they need. Keep in mind that sniffing provides excellent mental stimulation that is much needed for a dog’s overall health and wellbeing!
Older dogs are more sensitive to changes in temperature, so it’s crucial to make sure they are comfortable throughout your walk. If it’s during the hot summer months, be sure to walk early in morning or later in the evening to avoid peak temperatures. In the winter, consider using a jacket or sweater for short-haired or smaller breeds.
Dog paws and pads are pretty tough, but just like our own feet, they can take a beating, especially throughout the years. Try to stay away from blistering hot pavements, freezing snow and ice and ridiculously rocky terrain. If your dog can tolerate it, put some dog booties on for protection and to avoid injury.
When starting a new walking routine with your dog be sure to watch out for any signs of discomfort or pain such as limping or wanting to stop or slow down. If you notice any of these symptoms or if your dog is stiff after a walk, it may be best to shorten your outings. Remember, dogs don’t typically whine or cry when they are in pain, so observing their body language is crucial.
After your walk, take a few minutes to give your senior dog a nice rub down! A dog massage can help soothe their muscles after an outing and could help to decrease stiffness and pain. It can also help to lower blood pressure and improve their circulation! If your dog has joint issues or is particularly stiff, a quick laser treatment is also a great way to help your dog recuperate after exercise. The Dog Med Laser’s brush attachment is specially designed to give your pooch a soothing massage.
We hope you stay mindful of these tips when walking with your beloved senior dog!