Exercise For Older Pets
Exercise becomes increasingly important as your pets age. It's best to start training dogs while they are young; but for pet owners who adopt senior dogs from an animal shelter, this becomes a challenge, as they don't know how the dog was once treated. While providing fresh water and healthy dog food is key, the right amount of outdoor exercise plays a huge factor in the overall health of your domestic animal.
As a general rule, puppies and younger dogs need a minimum of 30 minutes of daily activity to maintain strong bones and joints. For older dogs, they will need much more time spent outside - approximately one hour each day! Dogs that do not exercise become tired, lethargic and can lead to health concerns such as dog obesity, arthritis and cardiovascular diseases.
Here are some dog exercises that can be done from the convenience of your own backyard:
- Running/Walking with your animal - short, frequent walks can maintain heart health
- Playing "tag" or "catch"
- Playing Tug-of-War
- Play games with dog treats as a reward
- Balancing games
In addition to fun and games, pet owners should massage older pets to keep their muscles toned and relaxed.
"Regular massage can help keep your senior pet's muscles toned and reduce the slackening that comes with aging. Massaged muscles are looser, which makes it much easier for your pet to move around comfortably. Massages improve circulation and encourage lymphatic drainage. Regular massage also eases the stiffness of arthritis, which can help your pet maintain his normal gait and active lifestyle. Massage loosens the muscles around joints, which also helps promote ease of movement." (Healthy Pets, Anti-Aging Exercises To Keep Your Senior Pet Alive)
Make sure your cat is healthy, too! There are exercises for older cats. Here are a few games cat owners can play with their feline friends:
- Play Hide-and-Seek with your cats. Let your cat find you - this will keep their memory and senses alive
- Attach a ball or toy on a string and allow your cat to jump for it - this will help with balance and strengthen their hind legs
- Cat Trees, or towers, let cats climb high and can help strengthen their muscles
- Allow your cat to jump in-and-out of laundry baskets
- Apply cat nip to cat toys to encourage them to interact with you.
- Rotate toys every few days to keep cats interested in playing games with you.
Working out with older pets is a great way to bond with the animal and can help improve your health, too! This Senior Pets Month, exercise with senior dogs and help them live a longer, fuller life.
- Jenn Smith