Thanks to Megan Weaver, a highly-trained senior pet expert, for today’s post and Alice G Patterson Photography for the photos of Megan and her dogs, Rooney and Einstein. Our older pets are family – and Megan’s mission is to change how we care for them. She shows dog parents how to give their pet the best quality of life throughout their senior years!
Start your year off with a Healthier Senior Dog!
You look at your aging fur baby, and you worry how you’re going to keep her strong, balanced, and happy for years to come.
I have fantastic news!
You have the skills to keep her fit right from HOME!
When you think of the words Balance and Strength, do you ever picture…
Your furry friend balancing on one leg, standing upright on a yoga mat?
Or your pup “Pumping Iron” in the gym, WORKING THOSE BICEPS!!!
Of course, we’re going to put our own human thoughts into these “fitness” terms.
Everyone does – and it’s hilarious!!!
But….. if we really want our sweet fur babies to stay strong and balanced throughout their senior years, there are exercises you can do at home that work their whole body!
Throughout my years teaching Canine Rehab, the pet parents who had the best results were the ones who performed exercises at home consistently!
If your dog is over seven, then this is something you’re going to want to pay attention to.
Consistently means –
Performing balance and strength exercises 3 times a week.
Just like us, you’ll want to give your fur baby a day off in between to give their muscles time to rest & recover. (Don’t forget those walks every day, though!)
I like to add in two balance exercises and two strength exercises during my senior pet’s walk three times a week because it’ll keep my fur baby’s brain active and strengthen his muscles at the same time!
Two Balance Exercises
3 Legged Standing:
Slowly pick up one of your pet’s legs & hold for 5 to 15 seconds, then pick up the next paw. Go around, holding up each paw four times total.
You might be doing this exercise already when you’re wiping off your baby’s paws if they’re muddy or wet.
See the instructional video here.
During your walk, slowly walk in a wide figure 8 pattern 5 times in one direction, then reverse 5 times. The goal is to have your furry friend work on weight shifting & balance.
Balance exercises may look easy, but they work the tiny muscles surrounding your pet’s joints & strengthen the brain’s balance pathways as well, so keep cheering your pet on!
Watch the Figure 8 video here.
Two Strength Exercises
Sit to stands
Have your pet sit straight – Meaning knees pointing forward, hips over the hocks, no side sitting (no cheating), then have them stand back up! Perform 3 to 10 sit to stands during your walks.
This is like the dog version of squats for us. It works your dog’s larger muscles, like the quadriceps & gluteals.
Pick a gentle hill and slowly walk up & down it for 3 to 5 minutes, then either slowly increase the time or the steepness of the hill over the next month. This is an overall body strengthener that is perfect for your aging pup!
You will be not only strengthening your fur babies’ muscles but their heart and brain as well!
These exercises are great for us too! Feel free to work out with your pet!
Remember to always go slow.
Start off with only a few repetitions the first couple of times and increase it when your furry friend allows.
If your sweetie needs a little extra food to motivate her, grab some kibble from the amount she will be eating at dinnertime or use blueberries, carrots, or red peppers as a low-calorie snack that’s full of antioxidants!
As always, giving your pet a nice relaxing massage after exercise or before bed is a fantastic (zero-calorie) treat that helps relax unwanted muscle tightness or anxiety. Click here to grab the step by step pet massage workshop that teaches you why to massage, how to massage & where to massage your senior fur baby!
Why not have your next exercise partner be your four-legged friend!
They can get in shape right along with you!
Let’s start off this year strong and balanced!
– Cheers to 2021!
Age is not a disease. Enjoy the journey!
Megan Weaver LVT, CCRP – Owner and Founder of The Senior Pet Movement
About the Senior Pet Movement: Megan Weaver, a highly-trained senior pet expert, improves the quality of life for older pets. Running a Canine Rehab Department helped Megan deeply understand the struggles of older animals & their parents. She developed strategies for pet owners so they can easily care for their amazing pets! Megan’s committed to educating owners on combining their vet’s diagnoses with easily implementable at-home tools.
Megan’s an LVT, CCRP, who’s worked with Board-Certified veterinary surgeons and neurologists to develop her expertise.
About Alice G Patterson Photography: Based in Syracuse, NY, Alice specializes in photography for creative women entrepreneurs. She is also an educator dedicated to helping other photographers succeed.
If you do not have a first aid kit for your senior dog, now is the time to make one!