Ageing in Pets: Keeping them fit
- September 6th 2021
We’ve all seen the signs: your normally upbeat, preppy pup is slower to climb down the stairs. They’re not as excited about walks or play, and when you throw the ball, they run for it, but not as fast as they used to. In other words, your beloved pet is growing old and may want nothing more than to lie down and spend most of their day snoozing.
There’s nothing wrong with snoozing of course, and especially not for our senior dogs who have earned a good nap. But it is also important to keep your pet fit and healthy so that you can ward off the early onset of certain diseases and keep them in shape. In this blog, we’ll explore how to exercise your senior dog so that they’re encouraged to keep playing.
Very few things are as great for your
senior dog as water. You may have heard the same recommendation for the older
people in your life—water provides excellent resistance to the body, which
means it’s good for strengthening muscles, but it’s also kind on the joints, which
means it’s good for joints that are a little bit worn.
The same is true for your pet. If there
is a water body near your home, take them out and help them have a little swim.
You don’t need to go too far out. In fact, just walking in the water, or gently
paddling will do wonders for your pet when it comes to exercise. Playing fetch
in the water is a great way to keep your dog engaged and interested. If your
pet is not a great fan of swimming or strenuous exercise—who is?—bring a
floatation device so they can gently paddle and be at peace.
If you don’t have a natural water body
near your home—because we’re in India and most of us live in cities—then vets
usually have pools specifically for pets who need physical therapy. You can
check with your vet if they know of any pools nearby, or can even sign your pet
up for physical therapy exercises. It won’t be as fun as jumping around in a
lake or small pond or even taking your pet to the beach, but it will be a good
way to keep them fit.
Stretching and… Doga?
Stretching is excellent for the body. It
keeps the limbs loose, reduces any early stiffening of the muscles and joints,
and generally makes you feel better when it comes to moving or doing any
activity. The same applies for your canine. Dogs love stretching—you can see
them stretch out every time before they lie down. All you need to do now is
make those stretches a part of their exercise routine.
Enter Doga. We’re not a fan of the name
but it does pretty much what it says on the label: it's dog yoga. Strange?
Maybe. Beneficial? Almost certainly. Doga is said to improve circulation in
dogs and improve mobility. Plus, most of the yoga poses already mimic your
canine’s natural stretching postures, so your pet is likely to be better at
yoga than you are.
So how do you begin? Several cities have
doga classes running nearby, so if Google tells you there’s one in your
neighbourhood, sign your pet up and take them to stretch once or twice a week.
They’ll be in a class with other dogs and it will be a fun activity that’s good
If there isn’t a doga class near you,
you’ll have to go the good old-fashioned route and do yoga with your dog. There
are plenty of online tutorials that can help you get started. And if your dog
takes to it, you can train them to do yoga alongside you—how’s that for mindful
When we talk about fitness, we don’t just
mean physical fitness. It’s important to work out your pet’s mind now more than
ever—it will help them fight off any onset of dementia and keep them sharper
and more focused for longer. Games that involve smell are usually great to play
with your pet.
We also recommend buying them chew toys
and food puzzles that they need to crack to get a treat. These are often the
most effective in keeping your dog engaged for hours on end, and the treat at
the end keeps them motivated. You’ll be surprised at how quickly your senior
pet cracks those puzzles as well. They’ve learned all the tricks of the trade
in their many years, and they know how to outsmart most toy makers.
Keep them moving
It’s natural for your dog to slow down as they grow older, so don’t worry if they don’t seem as enthusiastic about walks as they used to. That being said, it is important to keep them moving and make sure that exercise is a good part of their lives. If your dog seems to have lost interest in their usual routine, look for new ways in which to make exercise exciting for them again. Plan trips that aren’t too stressful on your pet but that allow them to get out of the house and the two of you to bond. Chase them around the dining room table. Wrestle that rope with them. The biggest motivating factor for your dog to get up and move is likely you, so use it.
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