Old dogs can still play like puppies. Don't give up on exercise and games just because you have an older dog. A regimen of regular exercise will keep your dog fit and healthy. Here are five great ways to exercise your older dog.
Light Walks Great for Dogs With Arthritis
Walking is always a good choice. Even with arthritis, dogs can walk for a good distance. Be aware of your distance, however, and don't overtire your dog. If possible, spend some time walking on grassy, uneven turf. This provides a lower-impact walk and may improve her balance. If your dog begins to limp or show signs of pain, let her rest. Don't force your dog to walk if she is in obvious pain, but encourage activity as much as possible.
For dogs suffering from paralysis or severe hip dysplasia, dog carts can restore some mobility. Properly fitted, many dogs are able to continue their daily walks. Other walking aids include a sling-like device that can assist your dog as she goes up and down stairs and ramps that allow easier access to your car or truck.
Giving Your Dog Something To Retrieve
Fetching does not have to involve long throws or fast running. A gently rolling ball can entertain an older dog, and this game can be played indoors. Be sure you use a ball that is large enough to prevent choking. In a Labrador Retriever-sized dog, a tennis ball may be too small. Pet supply stores carry oversized balls for larger dogs.
Tug-O-War Instills Confidence
Tug-O-War is not recommended for young or aggressive dogs, but in a gentle older pet, this game can instill confidence and strengthen their teeth, gums and jaw. Do not yank or tug forcefully, and let her win sometimes! Look for a dental-friendly rope toy at pet supply stores. They provide a minor flossing action when your dog chews.
Swimming Minimizes Pressure On Joints
For the pain of hip dysplasia, dogs often find swimming to be very soothing. Water reduces the painful pressure on the joints and allows a freedom of movement that is impossible on dry land. If your dog is not used to swimming, ease her into a shallow area. Often a lake or pond is preferable to a swimming pool. The slippery surface of man-made pools can frighten some dogs. Enter the water with her if possible. Most-but not all-dogs can swim. Some very chest-heavy dogs like Dobermans may not be able to swim safely.
Some Vets Offer Water Treadmills
Some veterinary clinics offer water treadmills. These devices allow your dog to walk naturally while being supported by the natural buoyancy of water. Originally used for surgical rehabilitation, they are being used more often for exercise in older or arthritic dogs.