The Importance of Fitness for Senior Dogs
Getting older can be confusing for dogs. They wake up in the same doggy bed, eat the same food, wear the same leash on their walk to the same park, but then one day something is different. They’re slower, a little more out of breath than they used to be, or they have a newly acquired limp that just won’t go away. She still wants to run after squirrels and chase blowing leaves through the grassy park, but she can’t quite figure out why all her favorite activities are now, all of a sudden, so challenging.
Your dog likely won’t understand the aging process or know how to take care of herself as her needs change, which is why dog owners have to take the time to educate themselves about senior dog care. Especially senior dog fitness. Aging is a part of life, but it doesn’t have to prevent your dog from doing the things she loves.
With healthy habits and the right attitude you can actually prepare your dog to thrive in old age. By providing them with daily structure and making sure they stay fit when they’re young, you will not only extend your dog’s life but preserve their quality of life too. Making sure they age gracefully and aren’t prevented from actively participating in their golden years.
Preventing Injury with Fitness
Have you ever skipped the gym for a month (...or two), then tried to jump back into your old workout routine without stretching? You know those terrible aches and pains you felt afterwards? Yeah, that happens to dogs too.
If your dog has a stagnant lifestyle, it can seriously cost her in the long run. Dogs can experience joint pain, pulled muscles and stiffness just like humans, and allowing her to be chronically inactive is one of the worst things you can do to your dog as she ages.
By not providing her with the means to exercise regularly you’re allowing your senior dog to become tense and stiff. So when you do take them outside, and they want to run and play, they have a higher risk of injuring themselves.
Muscles and joints are most effective when they’re used regularly, if you allow them to stiffen any future exercise is going to be more difficult. But if you take the time, and keep your dog in good shape she will be significantly less likely to sustain injuries in old age.
Maintaining Muscle Mass
Another reason to keep your senior dog active is to prevent muscle deterioration. Inactive dogs have small muscles, if they continue to be inactive for long periods these muscles can even begin to shrink, and once your dog is a senior, it can be almost impossible to get that muscle strength back.
If your dog’s muscle mass starts to deteriorate, it can be challenging to prevent further loss, even with exercise.
The best way to avoid muscle deterioration is by giving your dog the opportunity to be active and stay fit. It doesn’t take much exercise to keep your dog’s muscles in shape, a simple walk each day is more than enough to maintain muscle health and delay age-induced muscle loss.
By staying active and going on regularly scheduled walks you’re not only making sure your dog has a fun and interesting life, but you’re making sure your dog will be able to remain active in old age.
Maintaining Heart Health
The muscle that’s often most overlooked is the most important one, the heart.
If you’re not proactive about maintaining your dog’s heart health, you might be surprised to see your pet slowing down with age.
If your dog is getting older and you’re starting to see them sleeping more often, for longer periods and not appearing more energized once they’ve woken up, there’s a good chance their heart health needs some looking into.
Extreme fatigue can be a major symptom of poor heart health, and something that should not be overlooked. If your senior dog has slowed down considerably, it’s important to start introducing more activity into their daily schedules.
Make sure that when you reintroduce your dog to exercise, you don’t overwhelm them with too much too soon. Don’t start off with long walks, build up to them. Start with slow walks around the block to get your dog used to being active again. Then, over time, increase the distances until they’re able to complete long walks (about 30 to 40 minutes) without panting or slowing down.
Long walks are a great way to get your dog’s heart rate up, kick start their metabolism and maintain a healthy circulation. The more often they exercise, the stronger and healthier their heart will be.
But not all of us have the hours in a day to go on long walks with our dogs or keep track of their fitness level. This is why having a professional dog walker is so important.
Professional dog walkers will be able to keep tabs on your dog’s health and pay close attention to their fitness needs, making sure your dog is getting the right amount of exercise for their breed and age.
Hiring a dog walker for your senior dog might just be what the doctor ordered, you don’t want your dog to spend their golden years sleeping around the house while you’re away, so why not let them stay active and healthy by making sure they’re getting proper exercise. It’s the best way to keep your senior dog in good health without putting a strain on your schedule.