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Best Exercises for Older Dogs: Keeping Fido in Shape

Posted by Mary Ida Young on
While pounding the pavement for hours chasing balls or romping in the dog park might have been your puppy’s cup of tea, as your dog has gotten older, they have likely changed their exercise habits. As a fur parent, it’s important to adjust your routine to guarantee that your fur baby stays happy and healthy. Here we will go through our top three favorite exercises for older dogs and why they are a safe bet. Then, we will dive into some tips to remember when exercising with your senior dog.

Best Exercises for Your Senior Dog


Swimming is a great exercise for older dogs because it will still get their cardiovascular system going without as much pressure on their joints and hips. As good as running is for your fur child, as they get older you need to be more cautious of high-impact exercises. A quick swim can do wonders for your doggie and is a fun way to get them moving.

Shorter Walks

Studies still show that walking is a wonderful form of exercise for both humans and dogs and senior dogs are no exception. Rather than focusing on long, strenuous walks like you might have done when your fur baby was younger, spend time doing more frequent, slower, shorter walks. The important part of exercise for older dogs is increasing mobility and overall health, and walking is a great way to do this. While you may have opted for walks that would tucker your puppy out, focus on strong, consistent movement for your older dog.

Fetch (With a Few Changes!)

There is no game more classic than fetch and even older dogs still love the chase. But you have to remember your senior dog still has a few limitations with this classic game. When playing fetch with a senior dog, instead of trying to throw the ball as far as you can, throw it shorter distances that are easier for your dog to manage. Also take into consideration the surface they are running on. Undoubtedly, grass or soft dirt is going to be better for your dog’s hips and joints than hard pavement. Lastly, make sure to not throw the ball or Frisbee too high to get your dog to jump. While some dogs may have loved this in their prime, the force of jumping up and landing hard is too much for most older dogs. Plus, this jumping movement puts your pup at increased risk of injury. These are just a few of exercises that are appropriate for your senior dog. Some other favorites can be adapted to fit your dog’s wants and needs. Now, let’s look at some things to keep in mind when exercising with your senior dog.

Exercise Tips for Senior Dogs

When exercising your fur baby, make sure to take into account your dog’s comfort and safety. Here are a few helpful tips for exercising your senior dog:
  • Monitor your dog’s energy levels as they play. If you see your fur baby acting especially sluggish, or they show signs that they don’t want to exercise any more, stop the activity and make sure they are okay. This will assure that you aren’t pushing your pooch too far.
  • Think about your dog’s joints and muscles. Like mentioned in the previous exercises, you must consider the impact your exercises have on your dog’s joints. Avoid any hard jumping, running, or other exercises that may damage your puppy’s hips and knees.
  • Think of your dog’s surroundings as you play. This includes not going outside when it is too hot or too cold, not playing on hills or other rough surfaces for too long, and other environmental considerations. The last thing you want is for your senior dog to get too dehydrated, hot, or uncomfortable while trying to get a little exercise in.
  • Monitor your dog’s breath. While some panting is natural, if your dog is starting to cough, hack, or is experiencing another abnormal breathing behavior, stop the exercise immediately. This breathing can be a sign of another internal issue such as heart issues, lung problems, or even tracheal collapse.
Exercise is crucial to keep your senior dog healthy, but it's also important to know what activities suit your dog’s needs. These exercises will get your senior dog moving but are adapted for their change in physical activity.

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