Activities for Senior Dogs

You don’t need to have served in the military to embrace the idea of “no old dog left behind.” In this case, consider ways to include dogs that are elderly or otherwise not very mobile in your outings. This can include car rides or trips with you in a bike basket, stroller or even a backpack. Experts say the extra efforts are worth it.

“If they can’t walk, don’t isolate them in the house,” says Julie Anne Lee, DCH, RCSHom, owner of and holistic practitioner at Adored Beast Apothecary in Canada. “Take them for rides, stop and buy them a treat, and let them get out and smell for as long as you can; don’t rush them, let them take their time when they smell something. It is like us reading the newspaper. They are getting so much information from their senses that it is really important.”

Angela Ardolino, founder of CBD Dog Health, agrees: “Don’t stop spending time together just because their mobility has decreased,” she says. “For older dogs, playing in water gives them the ability to get their heart rate up and get their energy out without harsh impact to their joints. I always recommend letting your dog get into water whether it is a pool, lake or beach. CBD can help with mobility. I have seen older dogs who stopped walking come to life after taking CBD and get up and run.”

Related: Supplements and therapies to boost well-being

Finally, Steven Appelbaum, president of Animal Behavior College in Valencia, California, shares the steps his family took to include their senior dog on outings. “Sam was a 95-pound, healthy, strapping Labrador that was physically active for the first 13 years of his life. As he got older, the runs became walks and the walks over time went from 5-mile hikes to 1-mile slow walks. Regardless, he always loved walking in ‘his neighborhood.’

“After a series of strokes made walking more than short distances too difficult, we watched this dog grow despondent if we walked out the gate with our other dogs. I watched this boy drag himself down our driveway practically begging us to take him. It was heartbreaking. The solution? We purchased a giant wagon designed to haul gardening supplies, lined it with his blankets and put him in it. Then we pulled the wagon around the neighborhood so Sam could take part. He loved this.”

Dog owner Doug Kraus got a backpack to help Toby continue to go on family hikes. “Toby has a bad hip joint and can’t go more than a mile,” Doug says. “Then he gets lifted and a bird’s eye view. He seems to love it.”

Top photograph: Courtesy Doug Kraus

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