As he gets older, it isn't normally necessary to stop all of the games and forms of activity that your dog enjoys. If your dog is still up to it, simply reduce the intensity of the exercise as required, and be sure to follow these golden rules ...
• Talk to your vet
Make sure that the exercise regime you have in mind is appropriate for your dog’s age and condition.
• Start with a warm-up
Before you undertake any fast or strenuous walking, stroll around with your dog in a leisurely fashion for a few minutes to get everything moving. This will enable him to perform better and reduce the chances of a muscle injury. Sometimes a little massage is beneficial before starting exercise, as well as afterwards – follow the techniques in a good canine massage manual (make that a hyperlink to complete massage manual) if you are going to do this.
• Exercise little and often
Several short walks daily – not just at weekends – are better than one long daily route march. Walking this way will help to reduce strain on your dog’s bones and organs.
• Provide water
Many senior dogs drink lots of water due to kidney problems, but even if this is not an issue you should carry a bottle of water to prevent dehydration, as well as a collapsible water bowl.
• Be guided by your dog
If your senior dog shows signs of fatigue, such as lagging behind, lying down for a rest or panting excessively, he has probably had enough.
• Where and when you walk are important
Try to include a good proportion of footpaths and fields; these are kinder to joints than hard surfaces like pavements. Keep in the shade as much as possible on hot days. Don’t always walk your dog in the same direction around a field: alternate by going in the other direction. Avoid walking too far in very cold, very hot or very wet weather. A waterproof dog coat will help to keep your dog’s body warm in winter. When returning from a wet walk, always dry your senior dog’s coat well with a good towelling rub.
The information and images for this article are taken from Living with an older dog – Gentle dog care by David Alderton and Derek Hall.
How to recognise and understand the changes – both mental and physical – that occur as your dog ages; manage these changes successfully, and make the senior canine years more enjoyable and fulfilling for both you and your beloved companion.
There is also advice on how to work closely with your vet in order to manage your dog’s senior years, as well as sympathetic advice for when the time comes to say goodbye.