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  • October 11th, 2023
    Written by: Kimberly

    As dogs age, their physical capabilities can decline, much like they do in humans. Arthritis, joint pain, and reduced muscle mass are just a few conditions that can make walking a challenging task for older dogs, particularly those with bad legs. It's crucial to maintain a regular exercise routine to support their well-being, but it must be done in a manner that takes into account their limitations. Here's a guide to walking older dogs with leg issues, aiming to ensure their safety while maximizing the benefits of physical activity.

    Importance of Physical Exercise for Older Dogs

    Physical activity remains a pivotal component of your dog's overall health, irrespective of age. Exercise aids in weight management, supports cardiovascular health, and promotes mental well-being. While an older dog may not require as much exercise as a younger one, neglecting physical activity altogether can lead to a decline in both physical and emotional health.

    Consult a Veterinarian

    Before you modify or start any new exercise regimen for your older dog, a veterinarian consultation is crucial. A qualified vet can perform a thorough examination to diagnose any medical issues that might impact your dog's ability to walk. They can also recommend specific types of exercise that are both safe and beneficial for your dog's condition.

    Choose the Right Terrain

    Where you walk your dog also matters. Consider:

    • Soft Ground - Walking on soft surfaces like grass or sand can be less strenuous on your dog's joints compared to concrete or asphalt.
    • Level Ground - Avoid hills or steep inclines that may exacerbate joint pain.
    • Familiar Paths - Stick to familiar routes to minimize the stress associated with new terrains.

    Older dogs do not need as much exercise as younger dogs, so you won't necessarily need to stray from the beaten path.

    Use Supportive Gear

    Investing in supportive gear can make a considerable difference in your dog's walking experience. Here are some items to consider:

    • Orthopedic Shoes or Booties - These can provide additional support and cushioning.
    • Supportive Harness - Opt for a harness that can evenly distribute weight and offer better control.
    • Dog Wheelchair - For dogs with severe mobility issues, a dog wheelchair can provide them with the freedom to move without straining their legs.

    At FurBabies Home Pet Care, if you need dog walking in Lake Mary, FL, or the surrounding communities and you have an older dog, we'll make sure to use these products if you have them for your pet.

    Monitoring and Adaptation

    During walks, continually monitor your dog for signs of pain or discomfort. If your dog starts limping, breathing heavily, or shows reluctance to move, it may be time to cut the walk short. Additionally, as your dog's health condition evolves, you may need to adapt their exercise regimen accordingly.

    Rest and Recovery

    Don't underestimate the importance of rest days and post-walk recovery for older dogs. Make sure they have a comfortable space to rest, and consider implementing massages or warm compresses to alleviate joint pain. Supplements like glucosamine or chondroitin can also be beneficial, but consult your veterinarian before adding any new supplements to your dog's diet.

    Giving Your Dog its Much Needed Walks at Any Age

    Walking an older dog with bad legs demands a balanced approach that combines the need for physical activity with the imperative for comfort and safety. By consulting a vet, choosing the appropriate gear and terrain, and staying vigilant to your dog's needs, you can significantly enhance the quality of life for your aging furry friend. Always remember, each dog is unique, so it's essential to tailor your approach to suit your pet's specific requirements.

    For further advice and consultation, feel free to reach out to FurBabies, where we offer a range of products and services designed to improve the well-being of dogs of all ages.