As our beloved furry companions enter their senior years, it is more important than ever to help them stay active and healthy. Regular exercise can contribute not only to physical strength and mobility but also mental health, general well-being, and an improved quality of life for elderly cats or dogs. The key is to find activities that are low impact due to age-related issues such as joint stiffness or lack of stamina. Fortunately there are a wide range of exercises you can do with your senior pet that will allow them get the movement they need without requiring too much effort! Read on for 3 easy low-impact exercises you can do with your aging cat or dog.
#1: Switch to a leisurely walk with your senior pet
Let your senior pet set the pace of your walks instead of pushing for a brisk jog around the neighborhood. A slow stroll that allows your dog plenty of time to sniff is not only good physical exercise but also mentally enriching. Additionally, stick to softer surfaces like grass and sand and avoid the unforgiving impact of asphalt and pavement to help cushion your pet’s joints.
#2: Hit the water with your senior pet
See if your senior pet will take to the water for a fun activity that helps minimize joint stress. Before taking your pet swimming, outfit them with a life jacket in case they are not natural swimmers. Watch your pet closely for signs of fatigue, and support them when needed. You can also search for a nearby rehabilitation center with an underwater treadmill and dedicated support staff to help your pet.
#3: Focus on strength and agility training sessions for your senior pet
Senior pets generally lose muscle mass as they age for a variety of reasons. Chief among them is osteoarthritis, but incorporating strength and flexibility training into your pet’s daily routine can help them keep their joints strong and preserve muscle mass. Use treats to draw your pet into positions and movements that will boost their mobility without putting undue stress on their joints. For example, simply standing may be difficult for senior pets. Encourage your pet to stand for as long as possible, then coax them between your legs in a figure-eight pattern. Another mobility-boosting exercise focuses on stretching the head to the shoulders or hips. Use a treat to guide your pet’s movements, and you’ll notice their flexibility and comfort improve over time.
If your senior pet seems too stiff and sore to enjoy low-impact exercise, they may be suffering from a painful condition like osteoarthritis. Contact our team to schedule an appointment to evaluate your pet’s orthopedic health.