Exercise for the Body and Mind

lexy the elderbull; elderbull; pitbull love; senior dog; senior dog health
The Humble, But Effective, Daily Walk

Most dogs are used to walking regularly, but if your senior pup has been sedentary for some time, talk to your vet before adding even a daily walk to their schedule.

The vast majority of dogs love walking. They enjoy sniffing everything, greeting everyone you encounter, and just wandering here and there enjoying the great outdoors.
Most senior dogs will still enjoy, and benefit from, a daily walk but rather than a full-out hike or even a brisk walk, your older dogs' outings need to be taken at a slower pace, and you'll need to give more thought to where, and when you go.

Here are some things to consider when planning your senior dogs walking routine....
 
Pay attention to the temperature outside
Senior dogs often have difficulty regulating their temperature. The hot weather can put extra strain on an older heart and your pup will tire quickly.  Conversely, in cold weather your senior pup will feel the chill more acutely and a nice warm sweater or jacket can help keep old bones warm and comfortable.
Boots are good in wet, snowy or icy weather too.

Make sure the walking surface is suitable
Some senior dogs have, or will gradually develop, mobility issues or joint problems which make them a little unsteady on their feet.  Walking on firm, level ground which has reasonable traction (asphalt, concrete, level grass, gravel etc.) is easier for them than any slick or uneven surface.
Avoid parks or open grassy areas which have hills, ditches or pot-holes/gopher holes. Any of these could cause damage cartilage, tendons or even break bones.
Also avoid slick floors such as those in stores, malls or painted/treated concrete.
There are socks and boots which can help your senior dog keep traction on slick surfaces but even if they wear these it does not protect them from the dangers of uneven ground.

Keep to familiar routes
With age a dog's senses deteriorate and many senior dogs have reduced eyesight, hearing or smell.
This can make them anxious in new surroundings, so seniors generally feel more relaxed and happy on routes that are familiar to them.  Senior dogs suffering from cognition loss can get easily confused or frightened and continuity and familiarity helps them too.
 
Follow his signals & use common sense
Your senior dog will let you know how he's feeling.  If he walks comfortably for a while then starts to lag, turn around and head home it probably means he's tired or even in pain.  If he wants to stop every two minutes, let him.  If he seems happier to walk in the morning rather than the evening, give him that opportunity.

Most of the time your dog will give you the cues of how he's feeling but because they want to make us happy they will press on and keep up with us.  Therefore it is very important to use common sense when exercising older dogs!  

If you walk more quickly than is comfortable for him he'll still try to match your pace.
When you keep going, well past the point where his body is tired and stressed... he'll keep going to try to keep up too.
If you decide to walk at noon when there's blistering heat, he'll go with you - same applies if it's 6am on a winter morning and it's below freezing.


What's important to remember....  Follow your seniors' lead and watch him closely for signs of pain, distress, overheating or a chill.  If in doubt, err on the side of caution and get your pup back home for a drink and a nap.


lexy the elderbull; canadian dogs; elderbull