Thursday, September 23, 2010

Walking An Old Dog – 5 Considerations

If you haven’t been exercising your dog since he was a puppy you really must consult with a vet before beginning a new routine.  Explain to your vet that you want to integrate exercise into your and Fido’s life and ask the vet to recommend the best types of exercise based on your dogs overall health.  Just because he’s old doesn’t mean he doesn’t have some spring left in his step.
Your vet will consider your dog’s age, breed and size in addition to his muscle tone, flexibility and heart strength when suggesting the right exercise program.  Most likely daily walks will be included in your routine.
Considerations when walking an old dog
Pace is a significant factor.  Don’t expect Fido to walk at the pace he used to.  Think of it as more of a stroll the two of you enjoy together.
Water along the way.  Just like joggers enjoy the benefit of a bottle of water part way through their run, carry a bottle of water for your dog.  Pour it slowly and he’ll be able to lap it in, as if it were a drinking fountain.  Many pet stores carry a product that is a bottle and bowl all in one.  Or carry a small, folding bowl with you and take a water break halfway through your walk.
Timing.  Walk your dog before a meal, not after. This will minimize the risk of bloat.  Bloat is caused when a dog’s stomach fills with air and it can cause the stomach to twist which traps the air and can cause a dog to die.
Surface.  When puppies are younger it’s suggested you walk them on a hard surface like a road to help wear down their nails. However, the opposite is true for walking an old dog.  You want to walk your old buddy on soft grass or dirt to avoid damage to his footpads.  And if the surface is slippery for any reason, an older dog will be nervous and may even slip.

Use a leash.  Even if your dog is well behaved off leash, you still want to use a leash when walking an old dog.  If something catches your old friend’s eye he may forget his age and go chasing after it.  The older your dog is the greater the risk of this resulting in pulled muscles or joint damage which, of course, means longer recovery time due to age. Don’t take the chance. Use the leash.

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