Exercise for Senior Dogs: What’s The Safe Amount?

Exercise For Senior Dogs. A close-up photo of a senior golden retriever enjoying the outdoors
Exercise For Senior Dogs. A close-up photo of a senior golden retriever enjoying the outdoors

Our sweet, stubborn old pups. Sleep may seem to be their favorite pastime lately, but exercise for senior dogs is more important now than ever.

How much exercise should your senior dog get?

Your senior dog should still enjoy the same amount of exercise as her younger days — at least 30 minutes a day — only less strenuous and more focused on safety.

This article will detail how you should think about exercise for senior dogs, including the risks and warning signs to look out for.

  1. What’s the right amount of exercise for senior dogs?
  2. What are safe exercises for senior dogs?
  3. Safety signs when exercising your senior dog.
  4. Conditions that may affect your senior dog’s exercise.

What’s the right amount of exercise for senior dogs?

As your dog enters their senior years, exercise becomes more critical than ever in maintaining a quality of life. Like us, exercise helps prevent obesity and weight gain, heart disease, and other age-related health problems.

How much exercise does a senior dog need? Like their younger years, a healthy senior dog should receive at least 30 minutes of exercise every day. It’s essential to assess your dog’s conditioning to decide if you should break that time into multiple shorter walks or a long gentle walk.

The most important thing to remember when exercising your senior dog is to take it slow and easy. Avoid high-impact activities like running or jumping, which can strain their aging joints.

Moderate activity such as walking or playing fetch is still acceptable — and encouraged!

Exercise and games can keep your dog’s mind sharp too. Consider problem-solving toys, like those with treats inside, to keep their brain stimulated.

Instead, focus on low-impact activities that will keep their heart rate up and help them stay active.

Senior dogs exercise. A senior boxer sits outside on a wood patio deck.

What are safe exercises for senior dogs?

As your dog ages, their eyes, teeth, and joints are most affected. This means playing tug-of-war, throwing a hard toy to catch, or jumping should be avoided. There are still many fun activities your senior dog will enjoy:

  • Going for short walks multiple times a day
  • Playing gentle games of fetch
  • Swimming (if your dog is comfortable with it)
  • Practicing obedience commands
  • Hide a strong-smelling, low-calorie treat so they can work a scent trail
  • Play hide-and-seek

When walking or playing, choose a softer ground, like grass or sand. Sidewalks, streets, and other hard surfaces can put more stress on your dog’s joints.

Safety signs when exercising your senior dog.

When exercising your senior dog, always be aware of how they are feeling. If your dog seems to be in pain or struggling, stop the activity immediately and consult your veterinarian.

It’s also important to watch for signs of heatstroke, which can be especially dangerous for older dogs. Symptoms of heatstroke include excessive panting, drooling, vomiting, and lethargy.

Senior dogs have a more difficult time adjusting to extreme temperatures. When cold out, put a sweater on your dog or keep to indoor activities.

Exercise for senior dogs is vital, but you need to ensure you’re doing it safely and correctly. With a little bit of planning and careful consideration, you can help your old pup stay active, healthy, and sharp.

Conditions that may affect your dog’s exercise.

As your dog enters their senior years, they may start to experience health problems that affect how much and what type of exercise is appropriate.

For example, if your dog has arthritis, you’ll want to avoid high-impact activities that jar their joints. Instead, focus on lower-impact exercises like swimming or short walks.

Weight gain is more common in certain breeds, as are health conditions. Research your dog’s breed to verify what conditions they may be predisposed to.

If your dog has heart disease, you must be cautious of overexertion. Talk to your veterinarian about what activity level is appropriate for your dog, and make sure you monitor their exercise closely.

Hypothyroidism is a common condition in older dogs and genetic in some breeds. Dogs suffering from hypothyroidism may be less energetic, experience weight gain, and lose hair.

You should always consult your vet if you have any concerns about your dog’s health or exercise regimen. They can help you create a safe and effective exercise plan for your dog.

Final thoughts.

Should I exercise my senior dog?

All dogs need daily exercise. Your senior dog should get at least 30 minutes of activity to promote and maintain a healthy body and mind. Daily walks at a slower pace are an excellent, low-impact activity for all ages and health conditions. Keep your daily walks to a low pace that elevates their heart rate without over-exhausting.

Consider different low-impact activities, like swimming, hide-and-seek, and toys that stimulate their problem-solving. 

Help your pup stay active and healthy well into their golden years by maintaining a daily exercise routine with a well-balanced diet.

What did you learn about exercise for senior dogs? Share this article with others and let us know what you learned.

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