5 Tips to Help Your Senior Dog Stay Mobile
One of the most common health problems that older dogs struggle with is their mobility. Seeing our poor old pup struggle to run and keep up with the young dogs like they used to is really sad.
Not only because they can’t move like they used to, but you can see the disappointment on their face when the new puppy on the block beats them to the stick.
Fortunately, there are many simple things we do include in our elder pup’s routine to help bring back that smile to their face when they run around in the grass, or at the park, or just while on walks.
The Goldie-Locks Amount of Exercise
Regular exercise is absolutely crucial for our dogs at all ages. We talk about how exercise is the true elixir of youth for humans, and the same holds up for our four-legged friends.
As our pups age, though, they can’t handle the brisk runs or hikes in the mountains the way they used to. You can’t expect your aging dog to run like they did when they were three years old, so you’ll have to modify their activity.
However, often owners take this too far in the other direction, especially because older dogs seem to want to exercise less. If you allow your aging dog to lie around, their mobility and function will deteriorate even more quickly.
That’s why you have to find the goldie-locks amount of exercise. They can’t keep up what they did as a puppy, but they still need to move on a regular basis.
A few walks on a daily basis should be the bare minimum, as long as they’re capable.
Support For Their Hind Legs
Commonly, the hind legs get weakest and keep your dog from being able to run around. We could write a whole separate article on how to support this and prevent the decline.
If this is the case with your dog, then look into a list of dog harnesses that can help them just enough to help them power through their walks.
Varied Forms of Exercises
If they’re albe, you’ll want your elder pup to do more than just simple walks. Movement variability helps them use different muscles. When they try to catch a frisbee, for example, they have to stop and turn. Of course, this isn’t for every elder dog, but encouraging play can help them strengthen muscles, as well as challenge their cardio in new ways.
Take a Look at Your Pup’s Weight
The ideal weight will depend entirely on their breed and natural size. So you should talk to your vet about what your pup’s ideal weight is.
In overweight dogs, the joints will take the brunt of the load, further accelerating their struggles with joint health and mobility.
Give Your Dog Extra Massages (aka Snuggle Time)
You can help your dog’s joints and muscles by giving them a pseudo-massage. This will loosen up the tight muscles, which in turn will ease the stress on their joints.
And you don’t need to be a certified dog masseuse to do so. This should be your wake up call to make extra time to snuggle with your pup.
Pet them more than normal, and don’t forget to target the areas with weaker muscles. Their back muscles and leg muscles deserve some attention too, so don’t just put their head and floppy little ears.
This also comes with a host of other benefits for both you and your dog. This will help you emotionally connect, and deepen that bond between your best friend.
You’ll both release happy hormones like serotonin, dopamine, and even oxytocin, which can help extend your pup’s life in addition to improving their overall happiness.
Snuggle time is a win-win for everybody, so it’s a no-brainer intervention.
Try the Right Fish Oil Supplement
In terms of targeting specific joint-health interventions, make sure your dog’s diet has an abundance of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s, as we’ve written about in our guide on fish oil supplements, have a huge anti-inflammatory effect.
There’s an abundance of research that show how this directly improves joint health.
However, as we’ve written about, the pet food and supplement industry has outrageously lax regulations. Companies get away with mislabeling their products, as well as including dangerous amounts of toxins and poisons.
In the context of fish oil specifically, companies can include crappy oils in place of actual fish oil. As long as some of the oil is fish oil, they can call it a fish oil product. Yes, this is stupid, so you need to look for a few things.
First, make sure it’s a product with third-party testing to verify the safety and efficacy of the product, and to make sure that what’s one the label is actually in the product. Without third-party testing, there’s really no way of knowing that what they say is in it, really is.
Second, check the amount of omega-3 fatty acids. The amount of DHA and EPA (different types of omega-3s) should be at least one gram. For joint health, specifically, the research for dogs shows a relatively high dose (1-5 grams) helps them best. To learn more about fish oil and our very own Pup Labs fish oil, check out our guide to fish oil for dogs.
Invest In Improved Bedding
If you sleep on a hardwood floor, I’m guessing your joints aren’t going to feel too nimble in the morning. Whether it’s your neck or back, you can guarantee something won’t be feeling right in the morning.
When our pup has joint troubles, we want to make sure they have a comfy bed to sleep on. To that end, this should be a conversation between you and your vet about what bed will be best for them, their size, and their breed.
At the end of the day, helping your pup stay mobile depends on a healthy lifestyle. They have to exercise, eat right, and sleep right. There’s nothing to replace the basics, and as long as you’re checking these major boxes, you can rest assured knowing you’re giving your pup a happy, healthy life void of unnecessary pain.