Most owners are aware that as our senior pets begin to age, their activity level often decreases; however, what owners may not realize is the harm that a decrease in activity can cause. Obesity and arthritis are common ailments of senior pets and both can be postponed or prevented by ensuring that your elderly four-legged friend receives proper and adequate exercise. Begin by speaking with your pet’s veterinarian to determine the proper activity level for your pet and to make certain that their health will allow for the activities you have planned. Consider the time of year and what activities are available in your area.
Swimming is a great activity for aging pets as the buoyancy removes the strain that traditional exercise can place on sore muscles and joints. Pet life vests are available at many sporting goods stores and should be worn at all times in order to assist a pet should they become fatigued. Owners should never leave their pets unattended in water or allow them to stray out of reach. Another option for increasing your senior dog’s activity level is doggy daycare. Many facilities offer less active day care for aging pets in order to avoid overexertion. Daily walks, when weather permits, allows owners to spend time with their companion while keeping them active at the same time. For cats or dogs that do not do well in a public setting, toys to stimulate activity or a game of chase or fetch may provide them with a familiar setting while still keeping their activity at an adequate level.
Owners should be vigilant to any changes that occur in their senior pet in order to determine if activity levels require adjustment. Weight gain may indicate a need for change in exercise level, diet, or a more serious medical condition. Lameness or signs of pain can have many causes and should be brought to the attention of your pet’s veterinarian.
Ask us at Animal Central for more information on keeping your senior pet active or visit: http://www.petag.com/pet-care/three-outdoor-exercises-that-benefit-both-you-and-your-dog/
Dr. George Stroberg, DVM and Staff