As your pup grows up, he’s bound to experience a variety of age-related changes; his joints will naturally experience some wear and tear, and he’ll start moving a bit more slowly than he used to.
If your dog is having a hard time keeping up on your adventures due to his joint and mobility issues, don’t fret—there are still plenty of ways you can help your dog stay active while also being mindful of his limitations. Read on to learn more!
Regardless of your dog’s age, daily walks are essential to his overall health. While one or two longer walks are typical of many dogs, you may need to modify your schedule a bit.
Try going for a few shorter walks throughout the day to keep your dog active while also accommodating his needs and limitations. Allow plenty of time to stop and sniff—not just for the mental stimulation, but also for the break.
Swimming is a great form of exercise for dogs with mobility issues, as it’s known for being easy on the joints. If you have your own backyard pool, great! If not, there are still plenty of options including dog-friendly public pools, beaches, lakes, or ponds.
That said, not all dogs are natural-born swimmers. If your dog doesn’t want to get in the water, don’t force it—he may end up injuring himself further by struggling to get out. Plus, exercise should be a positive experience for you and your pooch.
If swimming isn’t an option, try walking with your dog in the shallow part of a pond or lake for low-impact resistance. It’s also a great way to cool off on a hot day!
Nose work is a great way to provide your dog with physical and mental stimulation alike. Hide some treats, toys, or even a favorite sock somewhere around the house, and instruct your dog to go find it.
You can get creative with the game, too: turn it into a modified version of hide-and-seek; have your dog choose which box or upside-down cup contains his treat; simply sprinkle treats around the house while he naps. The options are practically endless!
Keep your dog’s limitations in mind—don’t try getting him to jump through a hula-hoop or run in circles. Instead, train him to follow new commands based on what he already knows. If he knows how to “sit,” teach him to “lie down.” If he knows “lie down,” teach him to “roll over.” (You see where this is going.)
Positive association is important, so remember to keep training sessions short and sweet.
Gentle Play Sessions
You may not want to do any roughhousing with your dog, especially if he’s feeling fragile. That said, that are certainly still plenty of options for the two of you to play some fun games together.
If your dog used to love intense games of tug-of-war, try playing a modified version: keep your tugs gentle, and keep an eye out for any signs of discomfort. Keep sessions short, allowing for plenty of breaks.
If Fido’s a fan of fetch, try playing indoors on carpet or on a soft surface such as grass. Instead of throwing a ball and making him jump to catch it, gently bounce or roll it toward him so he can catch it while sitting or lying down.
Caring for Your Dog’s Joints
As a general rule, avoid any exercises that are too long or strenuous if your dog is experiencing joint or mobility problems. This means shorter walks and play sessions, and probably skipping the running and hiking altogether.
Depending on the severity of your dog’s joint problems, there are several surgical options ranging from minor operations to total joint replacement; there are also various rehabilitation options for dogs including physical therapy, acupuncture, massages, and more.
If you’re unsure about your dog’s abilities and limitations, talk to your vet. Not only will your vet be able to give you more information about your dog’s joint issues, but they may also be able to prescribe medications or recommend joint-support supplements to promote mobility.
Pet Honesty’s JointSupport+ Chews use a blend of natural, powerful ingredients including glucosamine, fish oil, and vitamins to support your dog’s joints, mobility, and flexibility. Plus, they come in a tasty hickory-smoked bacon flavor!