Supporting your pet through their golden years
7th April, 2021
Just like us, our faithful canine and feline pets grow old too. Being proactive and making time relevant lifestyle changes can help to ease them safely through their golden years. We know that exercise can start to become a little challenging for our pets as they get older but a few simple changes can make a huge difference.
Try to adapt your dog’s exercise routine to fit with their physical ability and age. It’s important to keep senior dogs moving but sometimes, less is more. Quality of exercise over quantity - short walks on a regular basis are often more beneficial than one extended walk a day. We call this exercise snacking! Exercise consistency throughout the week is also very important. Don’t be tempted to walk your dog further at weekends as this could leave then stiff and sore afterwards. Allow your senior dog time to stop and sniff, for them this is like reading the daily newspaper and will stimulate their brain whilst encouraging a gentle form of exercise.
But we can also exercise and enrich our dogs is many other ways. Providing scent based enrichment activities for your dog will encourage gentle movement in a safe controlled way. This can be offered at home, in the garden or out on a walk and is a lot of fun for both pet and owner! Dogs love a mini treasure hunt around the garden searching out their favourite treats.
Switching from a collar to a harness can provide more support and will reduce pressure on the dog’s neck. Make sure it fits properly and doesn’t restrict shoulder movement. Some harnesses have a useful handle on the back, allowing the owner to guide and support their dog over tricky terrain. Don’t forget to keep your dog’s collar on though, as it’s a legal requirement them to be wearing a collar, with a name tag, when out and about in a public place.
Using a dog coat on cold or damp weather days will keep the muscles warm and flexible which will help to prevent your dog getting stiff. Try not to allow your dog to jump out of the car – use a ramp to reduce stresses on joints and your own back! It’s really important with a senior dog to avoid repetitive and high impact activities so it’s probably not a good idea to let your dog chase balls or throw sticks for them, as this can increase the risk injury and cause further damage to their joints.
Top Tip: Exercise snacking can really help your dog to enjoy their daily exercise. Offer short walks or trips out several times a day, even if it’s just to sniff the lamp post or for a treasure hunt in the garden!
We also see a change in our cat’s mobility as they grow older. Cats are creatures of habit and routine and will often enjoy a potter around the garden or house even in their senior years. By placing steps or ramps up to favourite observation posts or sunbathing spots we can help to keep our cats mobile and happy in a safe way. Stimulating your senior cat to move can also be achieved by introducing simple games and sensory activities.
There is no one size fits all when it comes to senior pet exercise though, so please do ask your veterinary nurse for advice. Remember you can contact us 24hrs a day 365 days a year with any questions you have about your pets health and wellbeing, just call us on 0330 001 5153 or use our live chat service by CLICKING HERE.