Our older puppies may not move as quickly as they used to, but they still benefit from regular exercise and walks. It’s important to keep older dogs moving, even if they don’t have the same physical abilities and needs as when they were younger.
Weight gain adds stress to joints and bones, which is especially harmful for seniors who suffer from arthritis. Staying active can prevent obesity and increase the flow of blood and oxygen to the joints and muscles, which can reduce the effects of arthritis.
Outdoor walks also provide dogs with an opportunity for mental stimulation, which is important for managing the symptoms of dementia in older dogs. While regular walks are great for dogs of all ages, there are some big differences when it comes to walking an older dog.
Before you get on the phone and go out with your gray friend, make sure you contact your vet to determine if your dog is healthy enough for moderate exercise.
Here are a few tips for walking older dogs.
Prepare for the weather
(Photo credit: Mario Arango/Getty Images)
You probably already take weather precautions no matter how old your dog is, but it becomes even more important as your dog gets older.
Storms and pressure systems can affect the joints, as can extreme cold and heat. Symptoms of medical conditions can get worse in unusually dry or humid air.
Be prepared for the weather and take care of your dog’s needs. Look at the forecast to prepare. If the weather is cold, dress them in appropriate clothing. They may need extra warmth now that they are older. If it’s hot, stay in the shade and take more breaks.
If the weather is too much for your senior to handle, consider getting some exercise indoors instead and limiting time outdoors. However, don’t use bad weather as an excuse to skip training altogether.
Shorter, more frequent walks
(Image credit: TriggerPhoto/Getty Images)
Young dogs can enjoy a nice, long walk to burn off energy, but seniors don’t necessarily have to be exhausted from physical activity.
The purpose of exercise for your senior is to get the blood moving, the joints and muscles working, and the brain thinking. Walks should be short enough to avoid putting too much strain on the body.
Taking shorter, more frequent walks instead of long walks will allow your senior to rest and recover, and it will likely help if they need to pee more often in their old age.
The length of the walk can depend on your dog’s breed, size and individual medical needs, so consult your vet to set up a proper walking schedule for your dog.
Pay attention to what time it is
(Photo Credit: Joecho-16/Getty Images)
Maintaining a regular walking schedule is important for older dogs because they are less anxious when their routine is more predictable. Try to walk your dog around the same time every day.
You can add more walks if needed, but keeping a schedule can reduce dementia symptoms and prevent anxious behavior.
It is also important to monitor the time as your senior may find it easier to walk at certain times of the day. The temperature is usually warmer during the middle of the day when the sun is high and cooler in the morning or evening when the sun sets.
Depending on where you live, you may want to time your walks for when temperatures are most appropriate for your dog’s needs.
Take breaks and bring water
(Photo: Werner Lenske / EyeEm/Getty Images)
Older puppies especially need breaks during walks, and you should have some water handy for when they get thirsty.
Many dogs are not aware of their own limitations and even in old age their excitement to go for a walk can cause them to ignore the fact that they need time to relax and recuperate.
Take a few breaks to stop and sniff for a while before continuing, and offer your senior some water, even if they don’t show signs of thirst outwardly.
Stopping to sniff can also be a great mental exercise. If your dog has a favorite spot, make it a point to stop there before continuing.
Walk on easy surfaces
(Image credit: Олег Копьёв/Getty Images)
It can be difficult to find a good place for dogs to walk that won’t put stress on their bodies or have too much of an impact on their joints and bones, especially if you live in a city where there’s a lot of concrete and pavement.
It’s best to stick to short grass or dirt as much as you can to soften the impact of steps.
Long grass or sand may seem like good choices because they allow for softer steps, but it also takes more effort to walk through, which can tire your senior quickly.
Sometimes paved surfaces are the only option – usually in the winter when softer ground is covered in snow or when the ground is too wet and muddy to walk on. If so, you may want to limit outdoor walks and train indoors on a softer floor instead.
You can find orthopedic shoes or booties for older dogs, but check reviews before you decide to use them.
Make sure they eat well and get medical help
(Picture Credit: Eternity at a glance/Getty Images)
There are plenty of supplements and foods that can help reduce inflammation and the effects of arthritis on dogs, and there are several dietary changes you can make to combat symptoms of other medical conditions, such as allergies, which can be particularly stressful for seniors.
Talk to your vet or nutritionist about creating an appropriate diet for your senior that will help prevent weight gain that can aggravate arthritis, and make sure your dog is getting the supplements they need to ward off other ailments that older dogs can experience. meet.
Also, talk to your vet about any medications your dog should be taking to address any symptoms that are preventing him from exercising. If your dog has trouble moving, see if hydrotherapy or acupuncture can help get him back on his feet.
These steps will ensure that your walks are beneficial to your dog, rather than doing more harm than good.
Take special needs into account
(Photo Credit: fermate/Getty Images)
Some older dogs may need help moving. They may need wheelchairs or other aids to aid in their mobility, or they may need special boots to avoid injury if they drag their paws.
If your dog has a lot of trouble even walking short distances, it may be worth discussing with your vet how to keep him moving. Even if your dog can’t walk far, they can enjoy the fresh air and new smells that come with being outside, which will help keep their brain working and provide mental stimulation.
It doesn’t hurt to bring a car or stroller so that your dog can still enjoy the outdoors without the physical stress. Some people may look at you funny or judge you for walking your dog in this way, but don’t pay attention to it. You do what’s right for your best friend, and that’s all that matters.
Let your dog walk as long as he can comfortably do so, but don’t deny him the joy of being outside if it’s something he enjoys.
Listen to your dog
(Photo credit: CasarsaGuru/Getty Images)
One of the most important things you can do is listen to what your dog is telling you. Even though they can’t really talk, they can still say a lot with their body language, and you have to pay attention.
If they show signs of discomfort, such as limping, slowing down, or refusing to move, that means you need to stop, rest, regroup, and attend to their needs. If they show signs that they need a break, such as panting, drooling, or whining, you should stop and offer them some water and a chance to catch their breath.
You may need to take them home right away if they are unable to continue the walk. Know your dog. If they show signs of stress, it’s time to stop.
What other tips do you have for walking older dogs? Do you take your gray-haired pup for regular walks every day? Let us know in the comments below!