Pets age faster than humans and begin slowing down between 7 to 10 years old. Because of their age and associated health conditions, it might seem more compassionate to allow/encourage them to lay around the house. After all, they’ve earned their place on the couch, right? However, a sedentary lifestyle not only exacerbates age-related issues, it can also decrease an animal’s quality of life. Let The Pet Experts of Wheaton Animal Hospital review some fun, safe ideas for exercising a senior pet!
The Golden Years
Your pet’s needs change over the years. When it comes to nutrition, disease prevention, and exercising a senior pet, it’s important to stay ahead of age-related changes. That way, you and your pet are better-equipped to handle any issues that may come up during their golden years.
Stay the Course
Exercising a senior pet can be as simple as keeping up with a routine. If your pet is accustomed to a daily walk, we encourage you to continue this important ritual. Over time, you may have to slow down and go for shorter walks, but even dogs affected by osteoarthritis or other degenerative diseases can still enjoy a jaunt around the block.
The old adage “use it or lose it” can easily apply to an aging pet. If your pet can still walk without pain or mobility issues, they should be getting daily exercise. Movement is actually good for them! Just be sure to provide plenty of breaks in the shade and cool drinks of fresh water.
Play is Still the “Thing”
Sure, senior pets may not be as enthusiastic about the toys and games from their puppy years, but they can still play. Keep them interested by shaking up the routine. Shoot for 20 minutes of fetch, chase, climb, or hide-and-seek each day. Capitalize on your pet’s predatory instincts to feed their mind and body.
The Pet Experts also recommend keeping your senior pet’s mind sharp by teaching them new tricks. They’re never too old to learn new commands or skills. Consider setting up a challenging (yet accessible) agility course for them to master. The rewards are limitless!
Lastly, please be aware of the potential stress on your pet’s hips, shoulders, and limbs when exercising. A little bit goes a long way.
Exercising a senior pet is easier if your pet enjoys a good swim. Water is known for its healing, regenerative qualities. Since it provides less resistance than, say, pounding the pavement, your senior pet and their joints will thank you. If your pet isn’t accustomed to water, be prepared to teach them. Outfit them in a life jacket, and be sure to meet all their other safety needs.
Couch Potato Travails
As pets age and they begin slowing down, weight gain can quickly turn into obesity if portion sizes aren’t adjusted. A heavy pet is less likely to want to exercise, and it increases the risk of diseases such as diabetes, arthritis, heart disease, and more.
Exercising a Senior Pet
The Pet Experts at Wheaton Animal Hospital are always here for you. Please let us know if you have any questions or concerns about exercising a senior pet. Good luck!