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Exercising older dogs


Do you have an elder member of the family who’s been with you through thick and thin? Someone with years of wisdom, a big heart and… four paws? You’re certainly not alone.

There’s something incredibly special about our senior dog community. And while older dogs may be less likely to do casual Parkour than their younger counterparts, they need regular exercise just the same. But how do you help your dog to stay active when they’re dealing with joint stiffness and are slowing down and showing their years? Here are some tips on exercising older dogs, to help keep them active for life...

Take your dog on small walks at regular intervals

When your dog starts to slow down and show signs of joint stiffness, it can be difficult to know what to do. Should you stop walking them altogether? Do you need to switch to a totally new routine?

Many pet parents in this situation begin to walk their dogs less frequently. Unfortunately, this can do more harm than good. Consistent and moderate exercise is best for dogs of all ages. For older dogs, though, it becomes essential. If your dog goes without exercise for most of the week, they risk losing muscle tone and overall fitness. Then they can find it harder to remain active and mobile.

If you follow up periods of inactivity with weekend meadow marathons, you risk over-exerting your canine companion.

A far better approach is to take your dog on shorter walks more often. So, how long should you walk your older dog for exactly? Thirty minutes once or twice a day may be a good rule of thumb. But do remember, every dog is different! If this seems to tire your dog out, you can experiment with shorter strolls, perhaps twice daily.

The key is that you need to keep your senior canine companion moving consistently. Even short and easy walks can help to promote mobility and support joint health and wellbeing. At the end of each walk, your dog should be wagging their tail and loving life – whether old or young. Not looking at you like an ultramarathon runner crossing the finish line.

Signs to ease up and slow down

Here are a few tell-tale signs that you should think about shortening your older dog’s walks, or easing up the pace:

  • Your dog seems exhausted after a walk, instead of moderately fatigued but happy
  • They no longer seem enthusiastic about going for walks in the first place
  • They noticeably lose energy and enthusiasm part of the way through
  • They seem especially lethargic for an extended period afterwards
  • They become irritable during, or immediately after, walks

    Older dog lying on the floor

    Don’t let your dog become a couch potato as they age

    While over-exerting your older dog is a definite no-no, letting them lounge around all day isn’t the way forward, either. Regular exercise can help combat the ageing process in both dogs and humans. When you lead your dog through a well-balanced workout, you’ll be helping to improve their muscle tone, support their joints and promote good bone density.

    This isn’t about turning your canine companion into Arnold ‘Schnauzernegger’, either. It’s about giving them the best quality of life, day-by-day. Most importantly of all, being physically active makes most dogs happy. Games of fetch and regular walks are a big part of how your dog bonds with you and stays engaged with the world around them.

    They really are a lot like us, after all. It’s all a matter of finding the right balance between rest and activity to keep your dog healthy and happy.

    Look into low-impact activities like swimming

    Low-impact forms of exercise can be a great way of helping to maintain your dog’s muscle tone, cardiovascular health and mobility – while minimising stress on the joints.

    Swimming is one brilliant, low-impact activity for dogs and humans alike. Canine hydrotherapy, in particular, is something you might want to discuss with your vet.

    Happy old dog outside

    Realise that you’ll need to adjust your dog’s routine as they age

    There’s every reason to keep your older dog active, and keep the time-honoured traditions of walkies and games of fetch alive. At the same time, though, it’s important to realise that you’ll need to adjust these activities as your dog nears retirement age.

    Pay attention to the signals your senior dog is giving you. If they seem very tired after their daily walks, try out a shorter route. Swap up your old games of fetch with low-impact options, such as hiding toys for your dog to find and retrieve, or rolling a ball on the ground rather than throwing it in the air.

    Manage your dog’s weight to keep them mobile

    As dogs age, their joints naturally become less supple and resilient. While regular, moderate-intensity exercise can do a world of good – and while high-quality joint-support supplements like our YuMOVE Joint Care PLUS Max Strength can support their mobility – managing your dog’s weight is a must.

    Every extra pound your dog has on their frame puts further stress on their joints and causes them to tire more easily. Following the recommended nutritional guidelines for your dog’s breed and consulting your vet for a weight loss plan, if needed, can actively support their mobility. May the walkies long continue!

    At YuMOVE, we believe that age doesn’t need to stop your dog from thriving and living their best life. As well as following vet-recommended activity guidelines, consider giving your older dog YuMOVE Joint Care PLUS Max Strength – our triple-action joint support for stiffer, older dogs.

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