• April 9th, 2024
    Written by: Kimberly

    As pet owners, we understand the importance of regular exercise for our furry friends, especially in maintaining their health and happiness. This principle applies to dogs of all ages, yet as our canine companions grow older, their needs and capabilities change. You may notice that your senior dog is not as active as they used to be, and may be in a little bit of pain. Do they still need long walks?

    Dogs, Aging, and Dog Health

    Senior dogs, much like their younger counterparts, benefit significantly from regular physical activity. Exercise is crucial for maintaining a healthy weight, supporting joint health, and fostering mental stimulation. However, the intensity and duration of these activities should be adjusted to accommodate the changing capabilities and health conditions of an aging dog.

    Dog owners will first need to consider:

    • Health Status - Prior to deciding the length and intensity of walks for an older dog, a thorough veterinary evaluation is essential. Conditions such as arthritis, heart disease, or respiratory issues could necessitate modifications to their exercise regimen.
    • Mobility - The extent of a dog's mobility can vary widely in their senior years. Dogs with joint issues or decreased stamina might find long walks more challenging. In such cases, shorter, more frequent walks may be beneficial.
    • Mental Stimulation - Physical exercise also serves as a conduit for mental engagement. Exploring new environments and scents can be incredibly enriching for an older dog's mental health, even if the walks are less physically demanding.

    Talking to your veterinarian is always a good idea before engaging in exercise as your dog is older, but in general, your senior dog not only benefits from exercise, but in some ways can need it more to prevent some of the challenges associated with aging.

    Tailoring Walks to Your Older Dog's Needs

    With that in mind, older dogs may not have the same abilities as younger dogs. Dog walks can be painful on an older pet’s joints, and – not unlike human seniors – many benefit from resting on occasion to refresh their bodies.

    That is why you may want to consider:

    • Duration and Pace - Adjusting the length and pace of walks can help accommodate an older dog's endurance levels. Shorter, leisurely strolls that allow for ample sniffing and exploration can be just as rewarding.
    • Environment - Consider the walking surface and the terrain. Softer surfaces such as grass can be gentler on sensitive joints, and flat paths are preferable to hilly or uneven areas.
    • Weather Considerations - Older dogs may be more sensitive to extreme temperatures. Opting for walks during cooler parts of the day in hot weather, and ensuring your dog is warm enough in colder conditions, is crucial.
    • Post-Walk Care - Paying attention to your dog's needs after a walk is just as important. Ensure they have access to fresh water and a comfortable resting area. Observe their behavior post-exercise for any signs of discomfort or distress.

    You should also consider a professional dog walker to make sure that your older pet is getting exercise, but that it’s also spread out more to help with their physical needs. We can come to your property to give your dog  a short walk during the day, allowing it to rest and refresh before you take it for a walk later.

    Dog Walking at All Ages

    While older dogs may not require the long, vigorous walks that they once enjoyed in their youth, they still benefit from regular, appropriately paced walks. These outings are not just about physical exercise but are also crucial for their emotional and mental well-being.

    It is essential to adapt your dog's exercise regimen to their individual needs, capabilities, and health status, always with a focus on maintaining their quality of life. Should you have any concerns about your dog's health or how best to adjust their exercise routine, consulting with a veterinarian is advisable, and if you need someone to help you walk your dog, FurBabies Home Pet Care is here to help.