Let's Get Physical! Improving Mobility in your Senior Pet

February 9, 2016

Lack of MOBILITY may mean less time with your pet. Here are five ways to improve your
senior pet’s health—and maybe even his life expectancy—by helping him get back to the things he used to do.

 

Let's Get Physical. Take your pet to the veterinarian for a physical exam and find out if he has any medial conditions that might affect a workout routine, such as arthritis, a heart condition or respiratory issues.

 

Lose the weight. If your pet is overweight, work with your veterinarian to form a diet plan that is palatable, keeps your pet satiated and still allows for occasional treats. Weight loss reduces excess
strain on joints and weakened muscles, which may reduce pain.

 

First Steps. Slow and steady wins this race. Start your senior pet with five minutes of walking, adding an additional five minutes each day for five days until a daily 30-minute walk is manageable and  routine.

 

Relieve any pain. If your pet is limping, lagging, panting excessively or refuses to continue,
stop the activity and check with your veterinarian. Some pets may require pain medication
to get moving or to complete an exercise.

 

Step it up. Once you and your pet have achieved a daily exercise routine, you can increase duration, speed, even incorporate hills or different surfaces like sand to add more challenge. Walks will become easier as your pet becomes stronger.

 

Strengthen hind limbs. If your pet can’t jump onto the couch or climb the stairs well these days, it’s likely because, like many older dogs, he has lost strength in his hind legs. Focus on building back
those muscles with exercises recommended by your veterinarian.

 

Exercise the mind. Senior pets needto exercise their minds as well as their bodies. Obstacle courses can be a fun way to stimulate your pet’s mind and improve neurologic and muscle control.

 

Get creative. If you use simple household objects, you can stimulate your pet’s mind with physical games. For example, coax your pet to stepover a garden hose fashioned in a serpent pattern in the backyard—broom handles or pool noodles also work well. For pets already at a good fitness level, try rally events, agility classes, tracking or field events.

 

Don't give up. Discomfort and a lack of strength and flexibility may make achieving mobility seem like an insurmountable task. But don’t give up! Exercise can be tailored to fit the needs of any pet and will not only improve your pet’s health, but strengthen the bond you share with your pet as well.

 

Rehab for results. If physical injuries prevent your pet from exercising, ask your veterinarian about rehabilitation. Rehab specialists can use methods such as joint mobilization, massage, stretching, laser therapy and acupuncture to help get your pet up and moving again.

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