These exercise tips for senior pets are a continuation of our Movement Is Medicine series to help pet parents engage their companion’s bodies and minds!
“Exercise offers more than physical benefit alone. Senior pets benefit from the emotional and mental engagement,” said Dr. Laurie Brush, founder of Heaven at Home Pet Hospice.
- Cavalettis – are great for strength, balance, and flexibility. Walking over a series of raised surfaces with slow, controlled movement builds muscle in your dog’s trunk and legs and helps them balance around obstacles. You can make your own “course” using household items (from broomsticks to PVC) or purchase a cavaletti ladder/cone & bar kit. Start low & slow and build in complexity and height.
- The Standing Plank – Standing still for 10 seconds is really hard for some dogs, so start there.
- Cookie Stretches – Have your dog stand comfortably as in the “Standing Plank” pose. Lure their nose toward their shoulder with a treat, then toward the hip, then between the front legs. Do both sides. If your dog steps out of place while doing this don’t make them stretch as far.
- Back Extension – Have your dog stand with his or her front feet on a platform or step that’s about ankle high. They should keep their head and neck neutral and in a straight line with their back. Have your dog hold the position for 5-10 seconds then help them step down.
- Up & Down Platform – If your pet is starting to have trouble with stairs, this exercise will help! Set up a platform with a nonslip surface that’s about as high as your dog’s ankle. Have your dog slowly step up onto the platform and step off, one foot at a time. For many dogs, this is a workout! Start with 2-3 repetitions.
- Sit to Stand – changing positions is great for core work!
- Walking backwards in a figure eight is great for balance and rear limb strength.
- A Wobble board or balance ball helps your dog uses many “stabilizing muscles” in their trunk and legs.
Add these exercises to your daily walking routine for a well-balanced approach to improving your pet’s quality of life!
For tips, visit: Canine Cavaletti: Equine Exercises You Can Do At Home With Your Dog