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Malamum

Exercise And Older Dogs

17 posts in this topic

Malamum   

As per the topic title, how much exercise does everyone give their older dogs and how do you know what the right amount is?

Kira has just turned 12 and apart from being old she's in pretty good health. She absolutely loves going out for walks and I just dawdle along and let her set the pace, but she doesn't go that slow, she still prances along at a reasonable pace and looks perky and happy. If anything once she can see the house and she knows were close to being at the end of the walk she starts with the delaying tactics of sniffing everything and walking at a snails pace so I get the impression she's keen to stay out for as long as possible and I'm happy to indulge her as long as I'm not over doing it.

We have a couple of standard loops we do with one being about 1.5km and the other is about 3. We do the short walk on weeknights when we have less time and I take her on the longer loop when time permits.

When we had Indy it was easy to work out the appropriate distance as he had arthritis and if we went that little bit too far he would be very visibly stiff and sore the next day so that was our check and balance but it's not that easy with Kira. She shows no visible signs that we are going to far but I am also very cognisant that at her age and being a large breed it's like making my 90 year old grandmother do exercise so I do worry about her a bit.

Edited by Malamum

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My 13 year old gets a 2.5 km walk daily (half on, half off lead), and a run around the paddock a few times a week. She would go further than 2.5ks with no trouble though, and does when Grandma (i.e. my mum)takes her out - they often walk for more than an hour.

I go at her pace, let her sniff and take her time when she is off the lead. On the lead, if she is keeping up with my brisk pace then I am pleased. But sometimes she will lag a bit if she is having a sore day, so we'll go slower or for a shorter walk.

Exercise has benefited her greatly as she ages, she had a rough year after retiring from agility because I slackened off with the exercise, she lost a lot of muscle tone and had a saggy tummy. She is back to looking fit and healthy again now, so I am careful not to let her slide back again. She has even started running again, chasing my young dog around and getting pretty close to her old speed, which is fantastic to see.

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Bjelkier   

I'd say if she's happy to go for a longer walk and isn't stiff the next day I'd keep letting her do them. My 14 yr old Lab has a very limited range these days and can only manage about 15 mins before he's too sore, the stiffness the next day is my biggest tell with him.

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Malamum   

It's more her heart I worry about, I know about joint pain and what to look for there but how do I know if I am putting strain on her heart?

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I think they really limit themselves when they're not up to it. I know the last two seniors I had (14 year old rotty x and a 15yr old foxi) would dictate the length of their walks depending on what they felt up to.

Some days, it was enough for Guin (my last foxi) to go to the bottom of the common driveway (about 5 townhouses length), sniff, pee and turn around and go home. I think it's just the mental break of being out which helps the larger ones when they're not really up to the walk - Maj (the rotty x) enjoyed going to the park - 500m up the street - to sunbake & poke around.

Does your girl know any games you can play to tire her out mentally to couple with some shorter walks?

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I would read the signs your dog is giving you. You should be able to tell if she has had enough on each walk, and if you keep and eye on her the day after will soon be able to see if it's too much.

One thing I advise is letting her set the pace. I've found that walks are a very special time to spend with older dogs, so may as well enjoy it together at the pace that suits her!

Edited by BullBreedBoy

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Malamum   

I think they really limit themselves when they're not up to it. I know the last two seniors I had (14 year old rotty x and a 15yr old foxi) would dictate the length of their walks depending on what they felt up to.

That's good to know. I was worried that her mental enthusiasm would override what her body could actually cope with and that it was up to me to limit her.

It sounds like I should just continue to do what I'm already doing and just let her do what she wants in regards to how far and how fast.

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I adopt a lot of baby puppy management techniques with seniors and exercise is one of them.

Off lead only - the dog does as much or as little as it wishes in about 20 minutes. With the very senior poodle I carry her if she can't deal with the ground but she's still good for 20 minutes of sniffing, peeing and strolling.

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I would just follow her lead, if she seems happy and keen and is showing no discomfort or distress, just keep doing what you're doing. I think its important to keep them moving as they get older :)

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My ACD was 17 when I had her put to sleep after a liver tumour rupture. She was one craaaazy dog - had to keep her on leash in her last few years as she went deaf (properly not just convenient :laugh: ) and would run and run on the beach like a puppy. Couldn't hear me calling and could barely get out of bed the next day. But happy? Absolutely!

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I had to keep her on leash in her last few years as she went deaf (properly not just convenient :laugh: ) and would run and run on the beach like a puppy. Couldn't hear me calling and could barely get out of bed the next day.

Having this issue with my girl at the moment, completely deaf and just wanders off - luckily she wanders off slowly, so I can run after her and steer her back in the right direction if I need to (and we don't walk near roads).

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Malamum   

Yes Kira has gone deaf too so there is no way she is going off lead. She's slow (and she not a runner anyway) so I'd probably be able to catch her but I'm not taking any chances as I can't recall her unless we've got eye contact.

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Has anyone ever seen any research on exercise and old dogs?

The doctors are forever telling us old farts that exercise is good for our brains and our bodies, and that we should challenge ourselves more than we do.

Wouldn't surprise me at all if it's good to keep an old dog exercising . . . and that some of them would live longer and healthier lives if we didn't let them turn into couch potatoes.

I'm 66 . .. last year I took up running a couple miles a day. Wasn't comfortable at first, but it's done a lot to reduce my aches and pains.

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Jumabaar   

Does she actually have any Cardiovascular problems? Good heart health is maintained by exercise!! Exercise intolerance and a decrease in the ability to walk is often the first sign of problems so it is typically the fit and active dogs that are exercising that are diagnosed early, have lots of reserves that do the best.

It sounds like your doing everything right :)

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Dogsfevr   

One thing i find with many old dogs is they DON"T always now there limit,they love going out so i always pay attention to how it affects them for the rest of the day IE does it take a toll on them afterwards ,are they to worn out for the rest of the day & look sore getting up/down.

My 12 yr old does alot of self exercise as we have a big property ,i take him for a short walk each night because he enjoys getting out of the house but lead walking takes a bigger toll on him so its more a mental enjoyment,we also will go for a car ride if the weather is bad because he just likes getting out & its a good alternative when required .

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WeimMe   

I used to take my old girl out for about a 20 minute stroll as well, but as she got older and her condition deteriorated (vet & I thought arthritis but it turned out to be something more sinister) the walks got shorter and for the last few months of her life I didn't walk her any more as she would stumble quite a bit and sometimes even fall over. She still really enjoyed the walk and I never pushed her - I think she would have continued to enjoy getting out of the house. In retrospect I wonder if the daily walks helped to slow her decline. In future I will continue to walk my dogs even for just a few minutes if they still enjoy it.

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ness   

My old girl at 14 was having beach trips and walks/outings twice a day right up until the day she died. Sure she slowed down a little bit but that didn't stop us. Keeping them active helps keep them alive I think. Even if its only a drive to a local park and a bit of pottering.

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