Senior Dog Exercise Options

Your sweet older dog Gracie has lost some of the spring in her step. Gracie has been your constant companion for years, trotting along on your daily jogs and romping through the dog park with her friends. Lately, though, Gracie’s pace has slowed a bit, and she sometimes appears reluctant to get to her feet for a walk. While Gracie is clearly aging, you think she’d still enjoy some light exercise. Ask your Beaverton veterinarian to evaluate Gracie and determine which exercise is best for her.


Causes of Limited Mobility

Gracie’s osteoarthritis has resulted in some joint degeneration. What’s worse, her years of regular dog treats have caused her waistline to expand, and the extra pounds put extra stress on her already compromised joints. Gracie also has rheumatoid arthritis, which limits her mobility when she has a flare-up. You’re glad that Gracie doesn’t have hip dysplasia, a congenital condition that seems to mildly affect younger dogs, but one that can cause serious difficulties for older dogs. Finally, if Gracie’s heart doesn’t function as well as it should, she’ll get easily winded, which limits her ability to exercise.


Fun Indoor Exercise Ideas

Even with Gracie’s physical limitations, light indoor exercise will help work her muscles and provide mental stimulation. Try some obedience walking through your house, or perhaps a slow-paced game of indoor fetch if your vet approves it. If Gracie can climb stairs, encourage her to work her muscles and joints by slowly following you up and down a few flights. If Gracie likes the water, a warm canine therapy pool allows her to work her muscles without stressing her joints. She’ll enjoy the soothing warm water, too.


Outdoor Exercise Planning

Walking provides Gracie with regular exercise at her own pace, so continue her walks even if you must shorten them due to her reduced energy level. Ask your Beaverton vet how much vigorous physical activity, if any, Gracie’s body can handle. If Gracie still enjoys flying disc retrieval, tag, or other backyard activities, realize that she’ll tire out more quickly.


Finally, since the weather’s getting warmer, remember to keep Gracie well hydrated and give her plenty of breaks. If necessary, switch to early morning or evening outdoor exercise sessions. While you’d like to keep Gracie active during her senior years, always pay special attention to her comfort levels, and be prepared to stop your activity if necessary.

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