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What’s a Good Exercise Plan For My Pet Suffering From Joint Pains?

Veterinarian Reviewed by Dr. Janice Huntingford, DVM on May 9, 2018
Posted in Dog

Just like people, dogs age. It’s a fact of life. They grow silver and white hair; they become stiff in the joints and slow in their steps; they experience pain; they get crabby and moody; and they may not be quite as upbeat and peppy as they once were.

As they age, they will also experience declining health conditions, such as arthritis. If you notice your dog losing muscle mass, struggling to regain their feet, or limping on aching limbs, arthritis could be the culprit. Dogs who suffer from arthritis must remain active with regular daily exercise to stay healthy. Staying active will help keep the dog’s muscles strong, as well as improve circulation to those achy joints.

Below are some simple exercises you can incorporate into your dog’s daily routine to help keep them feeling young, even when they’re getting on in years.

  • Walking: Walking around the neighborhood or in a nearby park is an easy way to keep our dogs active. Try it for 10-15 minutes at a time and observe how your dog responds. Just be careful. If they seem as though they’re in pain afterwards, try a shorter walk next time.
  • Hiking: Short hikes on easy terrain are gentle on aching joints. It’s also good to switch things up and try different routes. The variety keeps your dog interested and engaged. As with leash-walking around your local area, when hiking you should watch your dog carefully to make sure the exercise isn’t doing them more harm than good.
  • Swimming: If you don’t have a pool, try nearby beach or local pool that’s pet friendly. Sometimes, local parks also have lakes you can take your pet swimming in. Some breeds love swimming and water play, so if your dog is one among them they’ll be full of joy too! Swimming is a great low-impact exercise and great for joint pain relief for your dog. Swimming keeps their joints and bones free from stress.
  • Gentle play: Short distance fetch is an option for playtime. Try not to throw the ball or toy too far while playing, though. Take frequent breaks, to let them catch their breath. Another option is a gentle game of tug of war. Both activities keep your pet moving and using their muscles. Pay attention to your dog afterward and watch for any signs of discomfort.
  • Indoor Games: Indoor games are an easy way to keep our dogs entertained and active, especially when the weather isn’t good. You can teach your dog some basic nose work, such as finding treats, or use toys, or play hide and seek. If playing fetch outside isn’t feasible, you can play fetch with your dog inside.

Daily exercise is an important factor for maintaining the health of aging dogs. Dogs in pain don’t like to move around too much, so it’s up to you to take the lead and get them up and moving on a regular basis, to prevent them from putting on excess weight that compounds their joint problem.

Read also: Lagging Behind: Reasons Why Your Cat May Be Limping

Our Expert

Dr. Janice Huntingford
Janice Huntingford, DVM, has been in veterinary practice for over 30 years and has founded two veterinary clinics since receiving her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine at the Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph. She has studied extensively in both conventional and holistic modalities. Ask Dr. Jan

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