Dogs are similar to kids in that they grow up so fast. Before you know it, the little puppy you held with one hand is a senior dog that’s starting to gray around the muzzle. While we spend so much time focused on puppyhood, we often forget just how important it is to plan for our dogs’ later years.
Keeping Your Senior Dog Active
One of the key things to remember as your dog gets older is to keep him active. He may be moving slower, but he still needs adequate exercise. In fact, many senior dogs suffer from obesity because they don’t get enough activity.
Keeping your dog active as he ages will not only help curb obesity, but it will aid in circulation, prevent inflammation, and generally promote longevity. According to Dr. Joseph J. Wakshlag, DVM, an associate professor at Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, “Keeping a dog in ideal body condition is the best thing for aging companions because it helps a dog perform at his best while staying injury free.”
Physical activities are also beneficial for your senior dog’s mental health. Whether you’re playing games at home or getting involved in dog sports, these activities help maintain your dog’s cognitive functioning, offer new challenges, and are fun for him.
Dog sports, in particular, are excellent for canine companions of all ages. Even if your senior dog hasn’t competed in sports before, he can still start. As the Canine Health Foundation writes, “Active senior dogs glow with emotional health and well-being.” Even more importantly, dog sports are a fun and unique- way to get that much-needed exercise, without overdoing it.
Get Your Senior Dog Involved in Sports
There’s a sport that’s perfect for every dog. Some are specific to a breed, like Retriever and Spaniel Hunting Tests, and others are more general, like agility and Diving Dogs. Any of the many sports out there could be the right fit for your senior dog, as long as he’s having fun and not over-exerting himself.
Agility is a sport where you direct your dog through a pre-set obstacle course within a certain time limit. Dogs of all ages and breeds, including mixed breeds, can participate in agility. If you’ve ever competed in the sport, or have just seen a trial, you know how easy it is to get hooked. There are classes, seminars, and competitions all over the country.
One of the many benefits is that agility has adjustments specifically for older dogs. They can compete in the “Preferred” class, in which they have the ability to jump at a lower height and are allowed more time to complete the course.
Participating in agility is both great exercise for your older dog and an incredible bonding opportunity. You and your dog must work together to conquer the obstacles and finish the course. And while it is a race against the clock, the sport can be as competitive as you want it to be. It can be about you and your dog striving to earn titles or just trying to reach your personal best.
Diving Dogs is a fast-growing sport that owners and their canines love for a number of reasons. The basics: you throw your dog’s favorite toy into a pool while he waits on a dock about 40 feet long. On your signal, he runs along the dock, jumps off, and lands in the water to grab the toy. The goal is to have the longest jump possible.
Just like agility, Diving Dogs is open to dogs of all ages and breeds (mixed breeds included). It’s incredibly easy to get involved, even more so if you have a dog that loves water and retrieving. For senior dogs, as long as they can run and jump, they can be a diving dog. Once again, you can decide how competitive you want to be.
North American Diving Dogs even has a special veteran class (for dogs over 8 years old) at their championship event.
Things to Remember
As your dog reaches old age, it’s more important than ever to make sure he’s getting proper exercise. Keeping your senior dog active promotes his health and longevity. Getting involved in dog sports, like agility and Diving Dogs, provides exercise, fun, and mental stimulation for your canine companion.
However, before your dog takes up a sport, you should schedule a checkup with your veterinarian. Your vet can make sure your dog is physically fit and capable of participating, as well as give you tips on the best ways to work with him to ensure his safety.
About Flexadin Advanced
For dogs of any age, joint health is always something to keep in mind. That’s why Vetoquinol offers Flexadin Advanced daily chews. These once-a-day chews target your dog’s immune system to support and maintain healthy joints and stop the cycle of discomfort and joint issues. The active ingredient in Flexadin Advanced is UC-II®, which works differently than traditional supplements, making immune cells less reactive to collagen that has separated from the joints. Not only are these chews easy to feed to your dog, but they’re tasty, and perfect for canine companions of every size. Talk to your veterinarian about incorporating Flexadin Advanced chews into your dog’s daily routine.
Courtesy of American Kennel Club