Is it always safe to walk your senior or arthritic dog?

With age related muscle loss, as well as pain and muscle loss in arthritis, it’s definitely important to keep your dog moving.. BUT is there a time when walking is bad for them?

The answer is absolutely! It’s not safe to keep walking a dog that is already in pain.

Is your dog in pain?

Is your dog limping, slowing down, keeping their head and tail down, resisting to move forward or just plonking on the ground when they’re being walked?

If you answered yes then your dog may be in pain and to push them further could be causing more pain and injury. If your vet doesn’t know about these types of episodes then definitely let them know!

How long is the walk?

It’s definitely hard when you have two dogs, say a young and an old dog. An older dog is likely to walk slower and not as far as a younger dog. Consequently you may need to walk them separately to accommodate these different needs. If your older or arthritic dog walks fine for say 20 minutes but then starts to slow down and limp then try and limit your walks to 20 minutes. This way you know they aren’t suffering pain.

Can you add strengthening exercises to your walk?

If your dog tolerates curb walking, stairs or hills then try and incorporate these into their walk. Remember always start gently, say with a few reps of curb walking, a few stairs or a short hill, and increase as your dog tolerates it. Don’t push them too hard, too soon!

Are you scared to walk your older or arthritic dog because it causes them pain?

It’s definitely understandable that people don’t walk their dogs because they are old and arthritic and in pain. This is where the importance of pain relief comes in. If they have appropriate pain relief then they will tolerate their walk better and that means they can safely stretch their joints and explore the outside world. Please chat to your vet if pain relief is needed for your dog.

Is walking the most important exercise for an older or arthritic dog?

Tough question! As a physiotherapist I believe that strengthening for older and arthritic dogs is of utmost importance. So much so that I would say if you walk your older or arthritic dog for 30 minutes a day then I would suggest walking for only 20 minutes while you spent the last 10 minutes doing strengthening exercises to help fight muscle loss from ageing and arthritis. Of course walking has immense benefits to our dogs, like the mental stimulation of sniffing, stretching those joints and muscles with long strides as well as bladder and bowel function. So my answer is walking is not the most important exercise but it certainly is important!

Where to from here?

a) Come and join my Facebook group to learn all things exercises and older/arthritic dogs!

b) If you want to get involved with weekly exercise classes then you can join  Furbaby Fitness.

Here’s to helping your dog live and move well,

Kylie ❤️🐾

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