Should You Take Your Elder Dog on a Run?

As your dog enters their golden years, you may wonder whether you should continue doing the things together that you love, like going for your usual runs and hikes. If you’ve started noticing signs that your dog is getting older, you can follow senior dog care practices to keep them more limber, which may include other forms of light exercise. After all, 34 percent of dogs are overweight, but staying active will keep them around longer.

As even more of an incentive, studies show that dog owners walk 22 more minutes than those who don’t own dogs, making shared exercise a win-win scenario for you and your canine best friend.

Let’s explore how to keep your senior dog active by first exploring the telltale signs of age.

When Is a Dog Considered a Senior?

A survey of pet owners found that a whopping 83 percent of people with senior dogs don’t realize their furry companions have become seniors, with most respondents thinking age 10 signified senior status. Seven years old is the correct age a dog is technically considered a senior.

Reaching senior status doesn’t necessarily mean dogs should stop exercising with their owners, as long as the exercise is not too strenuous. Noticing telltale signs that your morning run or hike has become too much for your dog is crucial in developing an exercise plan that works for them.

Signs Your Dog Is Struggling During Exercise

Before you start looking for signs that your dog is getting older and struggling with certain exercise routines, it’s important to note that some breeds are not suitable for running at all. Brachycephalic breeds — dogs with short noses — are not suited for running. These include pugs, bulldogs, French bulldogs, boxers, Pekingese and shih tzus.

It’s also important to know that puppies are just as vulnerable to injuries during running as senior dogs, because the bones and joints of very young dogs are still developing and can suffer from damage if a puppy starts running too soon. If your dog is a senior, it may be obvious that their stamina is not what it once was. If you know that your older dog has an underlying condition like a heart or respiratory disease, or arthritis, running may be painful for them and even dangerous.

Signs that indicate your exercise routine is too strenuous include:

  • Limping
  • Excessive panting
  • Frequent stopping
  • Lagging behind
  • Stiffness
  • Confusion or lack of focus

It’s always a good idea to ask your vet if running is a good form of exercise for your senior dog. If it isn’t, there are a number of other light exercise alternatives to keep them active.

Alternative Exercise Options for Senior Dogs

There are plenty of low-impact exercise options to keep your senior dog active and healthy. From walking to swimming, here are some alternative forms of physical activity to consider.

  • Walking: Grass or sand are preferable surfaces and warm weather can be more comfortable for older dogs.
  • Swimming: Swimming is easy on the joints, yet provides a whole-body workout for your dog.
  • Active games: Hide-and-seek is a good game for older dogs, but try it in short bursts of 10 minutes at a time throughout the day.
  • Yoga for Dogs: Doga is a partner yoga class you can do with your dog to increase flexibility and relaxation for both of you.

Following an exercise session with a canine massage is also a great way to help your dog relax and prevent their muscles from getting sore.

Senior Dog Care to Support Mobility

Along with a light exercise routine and proper nutrition, you can also support a dog’s mobility in their later years in a number of other ways. Purity Preferred Pet CBD products use a proprietary blend of broad-spectrum CBD infused with krill and moringa oils to reduce oxidative stress and inflammation. For older dogs that struggle with hip and joint pain, Purity Preferred Pet CBD Hip & Joint is specifically designed to support joint mobility.

Studies show that CBD treatment significantly improved quality of life, as documented by both owner and veterinarian assessments in dogs with arthritis. You may also find that physical therapy keeps your pet more agile in their later years.

Be sure to talk with your vet before starting any exercise routine or adding supplements to their diet.

Erica Garza is an author and essayist. Her work has appeared in TIME, Health, Glamour, Good Housekeeping, Women’s Health, the Telegraph and VICE. She lives in Los Angeles.

References:

  1. https://thebark.com/content/big-fat-truth-about-canine-obesity   
  2. https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2017/06/12/532625213/dog-owners-walk-22-minutes-more-per-day-and-yes-it-counts-as-exercise
  3. https://www.consumeraffairs.com/news/is-your-dog-now-a-senior-pet-072419.html
  4. https://dogtime.com/dog-health/52255-jogging-running-safe-dogs
  5. https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/training/teaching-a-dog-to-swim-canine-swimming-lesson-101/
  6. https://thebark.com/content/doga-yoga-you-and-your-dog
  7. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/05/200528160611.htm

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