Lexy the Elderbull

Lexy the Elderbull is a senior rescued pitbull living life to the fullest in Vancouver, BC. 
We are dedicated to advocating for rescue animals, specifically senior dogs and pitbulls. 
We aim to provide information on animal welfare issues, resources for adoption, senior dogs and pitbulls, and fundraising tips supporting our advocacy values and mission.     
Photo by Chris Lee Photography

Other Exercise

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There Are Many WaysTo Exercise

Walking is a low-impact and aerobic exercise which is suitable for most older dogs, but there are many other options too.
It's not a good idea to start a totally new 'sport' or exercise regime for an elderly dog, but if there is something that he's always enjoyed then you don't need to give it up just because he's older.  You may just need to alter the way you play.

Fetch, Frisbee & Tug-of-War
If your senior dog has always enjoyed a game of 'fetch' or 'frisbee', he may well still be able to have some fun with his favorite sport as long as you're careful.
In older dogs the support offered by legs and hips varies and can decrease, so always be very careful with jumping to catch a ball or frisbee. 
You can still throw them, just make sure the trajectory is low enough so he can catch whatever it without leaping off the ground.  Also, keep games short and stop as soon as you notice your dogs' energy levels flagging, he slows down, pants heavily etc.  Make sure that there is plenty of shade where you play and always offer lots of fresh water to keep him from getting dehydrated.
Again, be sure that the area where you play is level and has good footing for your dog. No potholes, hills or ditches please.

Swimming is a great choice when it comes to exercising senior dogs. 
The water helps to support their weight, giving old joints and ligaments a rest while still allowing muscles (including the heart) to exercise and improving blood flow.

If you have a pool or live near a lake then taking your dog for a regular swim or paddle along can make be a great benefit to his overall health and fitness. 
Of course, as with other types of exercise, use common sense and make sure your dog is enjoying himself and not overdoing things.
Only let him swim outdoors in warm weather and dry him off quickly so he doesn't get chilled. If you have access to an indoor pool it can be a year-round activity but the rules of preventing a chill still apply. Keep swim sessions short to prevent over-tiring your dog, supervise him closely at all times and never force a dog to get into water if he doesn't want to.
If you have a pool it's also a very good idea to install a doggie-ramp or steps so that there's always a quick and easy exit for him.
Do bear in mind that older dogs are less mobile than younger ones and that he may need a little help with entering and exiting a pool.

Therapy Exercises For Senior Dogs
For some older dogs even the more routine forms of exercise such as walking, playing or swimming are just too much for their bodies to handle.  But this doesn't mean that they don't still need to move/use their muscles, joints and ligaments.  In fact if they don't exercise in some way then there will simply be a degeneration of tissue and mobility which is never a good thing.
This is where physical therapy comes in and if your elderly dog fits this scenario ask your veterinarian if he/she can recommend a canine physical therapist. Alternately check your local listings for Canine Physical Therapy & Rehab Practitioners.
Massage, stretching, muscle-strengthening exercises, hydrotherapy and more are often offered and can make a huge difference to your senior dogs' overall health and quality of life.


How Much Exercise Is Too Much For Older Dogs?
Your senior dog's ability or tolerance for exercise depends on several factors, including weight, previous exercise history, general health and specific health conditions or issues.
ALWAYS check with your dogs' veterinarian before starting any type of new, unfamiliar or increased exercise program for your dog.  Your vet is in the best position to advise you on what will be most beneficial as well as what to avoid.

Signs that your older dog has had enough activity/exercise include:
Excessive panting or drooling, especially if his tongue/gums are bright red. Obviously dogs pant in hot weather and it's an essential function used to cool down, but it's not advisable to exercise any dog outdoors when it's hot, especially an elderly one and heavy panting is a sign your dogs' body is under stress.

Slowing down or reluctance to continue to walk or play. This is a clear sign your senior has had enough for now.

Limping or weakness in any limb. If your older dog starts to favor one leg or shows signs of weakness while exercising, stop right away. It's also possible for a limp, stiffness or weakness to show up hours after an exercise session. If the limp doesn't resolve itself within 24 hours (or does so but returns) you need to have your vet examine your dog to make sure there's no serious injury or inflammation.

Coughing, hacking or 'honking'. This can be a sign of heart issues, lung problems or something called 'Tracheal Collapse' (most common in small and tiny breeds). Repeated coughing can cause breathing difficulties so if when you're exercising your older dog he starts to cough, end play time and allow them to relax. If the coughing starts every time he exerts himself he needs to be evaluated by your veterinarian.

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Please remember that exercising older dogs isn't just an optional 'for fun' activity, it's essential to their health and quality of life.
Whichever method, or methods, that you choose I hope that you and your golden oldie enjoy the time spent together :)