Running purebred dogOur pets are living longer than ever, and it’s no accident. Pets today have better nutrition, preventative care, and treatment options than they ever have before.

As our beloved pets age, though, they often require extra care. They need to visit the veterinarian more frequently and may need additional help through medications, laser therapy, physical therapy, or pet massage to feel well or truly thrive. They may also need special accommodations to stay active.

Why Keeping Older Pets Active Matters

Keeping your senior citizen moving is important, but do you know why? Maintaining an active lifestyle for senior pets has many benefits, including:

  • Maintaining a healthy body weight
  • Keeping arthritic joints happier
  • Increasing cardiovascular health
  • Helping to maintain muscle strength
  • Keeping pet stimulated

Just like their human counterparts, active older pets tend to live longer, happier lives.

Ideas to Help Keep Senior Pets Active

Pet owners should encourage their older pet to get physical activity for at least 15 minutes per day. Older pets may not be able to engage in the same physical activities though that he or she could previously.

But never fear! There are many ways that senior citizen pets can still live an active lifestyle.

Change it up – Pets do not need to do the same things that they did when they were younger. Explore new options. A walk around the block may suit the former marathon-runner just fine. Swimming is often a good option for pets with joint problems; and older kitties still enjoy the red dot of doom, just as they did in their youth.

Decrease the duration and intensity – Gauge your pet’s exercise by his or her abilities. Slow and steady wins the race for most senior pets. Shorter walks more frequently may have the same benefits of one long one, and are usually easier for your pet to take. Be sensitive to your pet’s level of fatigue, and adjust your efforts accordingly.

Learn about massage and physical therapy – Sometimes, due to age or injury, pets have added difficulty when trying to get activity. Pet massage and physical therapy can be very valuable in stimulating muscles and maintaining flexibility and strength. Pet owners can easily learn how to perform passive range of motion exercises and other techniques at home. Some pets may benefit from working with a veterinarian who specializes in this type of exercise.

Precautions for Older Pets

Just as with people, pets should not start a new exercise routine without medical clearance. If you are looking to start getting an older pet active again, we would recommend having a physical examination performed. During this, we will inspect your pet and be sure that there are no problems that might make exercise difficult, painful, or dangerous. We may advise having additional testing such as lab work or x-rays performed depending on the situation.

Be careful when allowing your pet to engage in activities he or she particularly enjoys. Often adrenaline gets the best of excited pets and you may have to intervene so that your pet does not overdo it.

It is also important to be mindful of temperature extremes when exercising an older pet. As pets age, they often become less able to cool themselves efficiently or keep themselves warm in the cold.

A good exercise routine is important for all pets, but especially those who are older. By providing gentle, consistent activity, you will keep your older pet happy and healthy during his or her golden years. Please don’t hesitate to call us if you have any questions about your senior pet’s activity level or health; we’re always happy to help.