If your playful dog or cat is starting to get on in years, it may be time to rethink their exercise routine. Exercise is essential for senior pets but needs to be adjusted to their capability level.
What exercise is safe for my senior pet?
As with humans, as your pet ages, they will become slower and stiffer. Dr Helen Harvey, a veterinary surgeon at Greencross Vets Wishart Road says, “We recommend a small amount of frequent low-impact exercise. Walking is great for your senior pet and will help keep them mobile and free of pain. Generally, walking on a leash is best as it limits dogs from running around like crazy before realising they have aches and pains from doing so.”
Similarly, cats benefit from regular playtime to keep active.
How often and how much should I exercise my pet?
A short walk every day is ideal, however “your pup will benefit from three 20-minute walks a week. This is better than one long walk as it will prevent your pet from tiring out and over-using sore joints” says Dr Harvey.
What are some signs I’m under or over-exercising my dog?
Dr Harvey says “The most obvious sign your pet isn’t moving enough is weight gain.” Consider an extra walk or playtime to help shift weight. Also consider talking to your local Greencross Vets clinic to review the type of food and amount of calories you’re feeding them.
“If you’re worried you’re over-exercising your elderly dog, watch for tell-tale signs like sitting down mid-walk and refusing to go any further, becoming lame, limping or acting in pain or distress.”
The same goes for your beloved feline. If they don’t want to play any more they may be tired out. Let your pet guide you for frequency and duration.
What conditions stop senior pets from being able to exercise?
“While there is very little that will stop your pooch from running around, if they suffer from arthritis or heart conditions it is advisable to scale back on exercise” says Dr Harvey. Arthritis is inflammation of the joints and can be very painful for your pet. If your elderly dog or cat is showing signs of pain, stop playing and let them rest.
Speak to your local Greencross Vets team if you’re worried about your senior pet. If they suffer from arthritis there is plenty that can be done to reduce pain and make moving more comfortable.