Cayenne at almost 12 years old is still very fit and active! Good breeding, structure, and an active lifestyle has allowed her to be able to still compete agility at this age!
How fit is your dog? Having a fit, in shape dog is really important for your dog’s health, not only physically but mentally as well. So what are some ways to get your dog fit? And what are things to keep in mind?
**Make sure your dog is healthy enough for the activities you are planning! If you are uncertain talk to your vet. Maybe your dog has an injury that limits what type of activity they can do, or you have a puppy, or a senior dog that is slowing down. But there are ways to keep most dogs active; it might just take some creative ideas!
** Pay attention to the weather! Especially if you have a breed that will be more affected by the weather. For example, our brachycephalic breeds (pugs, boxers, “flat faced” breeds) do not handle the heat as well-so use caution! But any dog can get heat stroke easily, so keep this in mind. If you are going to exercise in the hot weather, go early in the morning or later evening. Make sure you give your dog breaks and water. And watch them closely for signs of heat exhaustion.
**Have a puppy-then remember until they are full grown (which in some breeds is 1-2 years), that they should not have forced exercise. But that doesn’t mean they don’t need activity to help their joints and bones develop. What are some things that are good for puppies? Playing chase in the backyard, slow walks where they can sniff and amble, slow hikes where they have to climb small rocks/different terrain, playtime with other (not too rough) dogs, and low key swimming.
**Have a senior dog? Make sure your vet has cleared any activities they are doing. But keeping these seniors active is so important! They may go slower and shorter distances, but mentally and physically it is great for them to be out there doing things. Swimming, slow walks, and short hikes can be great for the seniors!
** With any activity, ease your dog into it. If your dog has not run with your before, don’t start with 10 miles the first weekend! Start with 1/2 of a mile and then slowly increase the amount based on how your dog is handling it! And if it is too much, back them back down a level.
**Here are some of our favorite activities to help get your dog fit:
-hiking-there are lots of hiking trails around here that are great for hiking
-swimming-many dogs love to swim and it is a great low impact activity
-walking around town
-playing fetch with a frisbee or tennis ball
-playing with other dogs
-agility training-even if it is just for fun it is a great activity for you and your dog
Having a fit, healthy weight, active dog will keep your dog healthier as they age.
Boo Donoho, DVM