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Keeping A Senior Dog Active
September 15, 2023

Is your canine companion in his golden years? Fido will experience many of the same changes that aging brings on in people. He’ll become weaker and more fragile, and won’t have as much strength or stamina he once did. However, pups can have long, happy, and healthy retirements. You may find that you really enjoy this special stage of your pet’s life! Of course, keeping your pet fit and active will go a long way towards keeping him healthy. A Potomac, MD vet offers some advice on that below.


Walks are the gold standard doggy workouts for pups of all ages. Fido may do better with shorter but more frequent walks, rather than longer strolls once or twice a day. Let your furry pal pick the pace, and watch for signs of fatigue. When he starts to look tired, bring him back in.


Fido may not have the energy he used to, so rigorous games of Fetch may be out of the question. However, playing will still be fun and beneficial for him. The key is not to overdo it. Dogs will push themselves to please their humans, so don’t let Fido overexert himself. Over time, you’ll want to choose less vigorous activities. You’ll can also incorporate some games that work your canine pal’s mind, such as the Three Cups game or Hide and Seek.

Swimming With Older Dog

Swimming can be a great activity for Man’s Best Friend The water supports Fido’s weight, which makes this workout easy on his joints. Of course, if your pooch wasn’t swimming when he was younger, this likely isn’t going to be the time to start. Always put safety first! Only let your canine buddy swim in dog-friendly spots. Avoid anyplace with strong currents or a lot of wakes, and never leave your furry friend unattended.

Doggy Sports

Many of our canine friends excel at doggy sports. These may entail anything from skateboarding to skijoring to dock diving. However, as your four-legged buddy grows older, his strength and endurance will decline. If Fido is active in any of these areas, whether for competition or just for fun, talk to your vet about how and when to start scaling back. You don’t necessarily need to completely pull the plug as soon as you spot gray in your dog’s muzzle: just adjust appropriately. 

Our Advice on Keeping A Senior Dog Active in 2024

What are the best types of walks for a senior dog?

For senior dogs, the ideal walks are shorter and more frequent, allowing them to maintain activity without overexertion. Tailoring the walk’s length and pace to your dog’s comfort and energy level is crucial. Opt for flat, even terrain to ease joint stress and avoid extreme weather conditions to prevent discomfort. Observing your canine companion for signs of fatigue or discomfort during these strolls is essential, adjusting as needed to ensure their well-being. Regular, gentle walks can significantly contribute to a senior dog’s overall health and happiness.

Why is swimming beneficial for senior dogs, and what precautions should be taken?

Swimming offers senior dogs a low-impact exercise that’s gentle on their aging joints, promoting muscle strength without the strain of heavier activities. The buoyancy of water reduces pressure on their bodies, making it an excellent choice for dogs with arthritis or mobility issues. However, safety is paramount: always choose calm, shallow waters where your dog can easily stand if needed, and never leave them unsupervised. If your dog is new to swimming, introduce them gradually, and consider a dog life vest for additional support and security.

What signs of fatigue should you look for during your senior dog’s exercise?

When exercising a senior dog, watch for signs of fatigue such as heavy panting, slowing down, limping, or reluctance to continue moving. An older dog might sit or lie down and show less interest in activities they previously enjoyed. Drooling more than usual or appearing disoriented are also cues that your dog needs a break. It’s essential to monitor these signs closely to prevent overexertion, ensuring your senior dog’s exercise routine remains safe and enjoyable. Always tailor the activity level to their current health and stamina.

Why is it important to keep a senior dog active and engaged?

Keeping a senior dog active and engaged is crucial for maintaining their physical health and mental well-being. Regular, gentle exercise helps manage weight, supports joint health, and reduces the risk of chronic diseases. It also stimulates their mind, reducing the likelihood of cognitive decline. Additionally, activities that engage your dog can alleviate symptoms of anxiety and depression often seen in older pets. By providing a variety of appropriate physical exercises and mental stimulation, you ensure your senior dog’s quality of life remains high, fostering a strong bond between you both.

What safety measures are crucial when letting a senior dog swim?

For senior dogs enjoying a swim, safety is paramount. First, always choose calm, shallow waters where your dog can easily stand, ensuring they won’t get overwhelmed by deep or moving water. A dog life vest is a must, offering buoyancy and visibility. Always supervise your dog closely, watching for signs of fatigue or distress. After swimming, rinse off any chlorine or saltwater, which can irritate their skin, and dry their ears to prevent infections. Finally, avoid cold temperatures to prevent hypothermia, keeping swim sessions short and sweet for their comfort and health.

Do you have questions about senior dog care? Call us! As your Potomac, MD animal clinic, we’re here for you!