5 ways to keep senior dogs safe and healthy on a walk
Just lately I’ve seen a lot of senior dogs out and about being walked by their owners.
I’m not saying there are more senior dogs out than normal. I think I just notice them more because I’m the owner of a senior dog.
In fact the age range of a senior dog is really quite wide. Many class a dog as a senior when they hit 7 years, which seems young. But in good old dog years (1 dog year = 7 human years) this makes the dog 49.
But you can actually break this down depending on the size of a dog. It’s well known that giant breed dogs don’t live as long as small dogs.
So you can use the following as a rule of thumb for your dog reaching senior citizenship:
Small dog: 11 years
Medium dog: 10 years
Large dog: 8 years
Giant breed dogs: 7 years
What’s been troubling me lately is that I keep seeing senior dogs out on walks falling over. It literally breaks my heart.
The one that really got me was a dog that had a poo on the pavement then proceeded to stand up and staggered and fell into his own poo.
The dog had two owners with him so they were able to get him up and wipe him down. But what a horrible situation to be in.
Firstly it makes you stare the hard truth in the face. Your dog is getting older and approaching the final stage of their life and they are struggling.
Yes we can see that over the years they’ve got grey hairs spouting on their muzzles, they may be sleeping more, they could have arthritis.
But nothing wakes you up to the fact that your dog is old when they struggle to get up or walk.
I've got 5 tips to help your senior dog enjoy walks that won't hurt them.
Take them to the vets. Only your vet can really assess whether your dog is in pain. Most of our dogs are very stoic and we can’t tell if they are in pain. Any signs of pain they give are so subtle that us mere dog owners will miss.
Our dogs will also carry on walking or running because they like it. They will not think to themselves, hang on I think I need to rest up. Your vet can advise you if your dog needs medication to manage their pain.
Supplements. Cod liver oil is great for us and our old bones and it’s great for dogs too. There are so many supplements for dogs. I have seen amazing results with Yumove. It does take around 6 weeks to work but can work wonders.
I like to give my dog sardines in oil once a week. Both the fish and oil help with keeping him supple plus it’s cheap and easily available. Sardine Sunday’s are a winner here! If your dog has any specific medical condition, on regular medication or allergies then you check with your vet first before starting any supplements.
Stop pounding the pavements. Pop your dog in the car (now might also be the time to look at a ramp for your dog to get into the car) and drive to a place where you can get straight onto grass.
If a dog does fall then grass is a much safer place for them to do so. This is essential if your dog is wobbly on its paws.
Have a rest day. I can not say this enough, no dog needs to go for a walk everyday. And this is certainly true for a senior dog that is struggling. Take them out one day and then have a day off.
With older dogs you rarely have to worry that they are going to destroy your house because they haven’t had enough exercise. You can play brain games with your dog on a rest day, but chances are they will be sleeping. Senior dogs sleep as much as a puppy.
I know that you probably got a dog so that you could enjoy long walks together but you need to face facts that your dog won’t be able to manage those long walks now. Enjoy the shorter walks and remember the long ones. Don’t force an old dog that is wobbly on its legs for a long walk just because it’s what you have always done.
Use a dog stroller. If your older dog really is struggling to walk then use a dog specific stroller. Your dog will appreciate seeing the sights and fresh smells but without causing him any further discomfort. You can get strollers of various sizes. It’s always worth looking on selling sites for one.
My own dog is almost 14. Everyday is a blessing to have him still with me. He can’t run like he use to or walk great lengths. His stamina has gone. But we have sporadic short walks, trips in the car and plenty of brain games. He is happy. He loves his little outings but they do tire him out.
As much as I don’t want him to be old, he is and I’ve had to adapt how to care for him. Have you adapted the care of your dog so that it suits his age?
You can get your FREE copy of my ebook ‘Engage & Entertain’ here. It’s full of brain games that have all been tested out on my 13 year old dog. Tea towel surprise is his favourite!
Sally Cousins is a self confessed mad dog lady!
After being mum to several rescue dogs she decided to turn her passion in to her career and set up her own dog walking business back in 2015.
Sally not only runs her business, Woofers Dog Services, she also writes for her own blog and also does guest blogs for other dog businesses. Sally is also the author of “The Lockdown Dog” and “Dazzle Your Dog” You can also find Sally chatting as a guest on dog related podcasts.