As your dog ages, one problem that you must expect and prepare for is arthritis. In fact, about three out of four dogs experience joint miseries as they mature. One great solution to your pet’s aching joints is exercise. Here are some exercise tips for dogs with joint problems.
Begin With Appropriate Warm-up
Before introducing any forms of exercises, make sure you prepare the joints and muscles of your pet. This is where warm-up routines come in. Just like in humans, warm-up exercises make the joints and muscles more flexible or supple, preparing them for more demanding movements.
You need to prepare warm-up exercises for your dog first
Warm up your pet by performing motion exercises at comfortable positions. Target certain joints, especially those that are arthritic such as the hip or the elbows. Begin by gently bending the joint that needs exercise, then progress to straightening out of the same body part.
To do warm-up activities, put your pet in a lying position on a flat but comfortable surface like a mattress. Position the leg that must be worked on facing you. Support the joint that needs exercise with your one hand under it. Then proceed with flexing by bending or straightening out the limb up to a tolerable level only. Do this slowly and gently and hold for about 5 seconds. Repeat the warm-up for up to 15 times. All this will be of great help as pet owners move on to the actual exercise for dogs with joint problems.
Another warm-up activity is joint massage, which helps alleviate arthritic pains. Do this on a daily basis, focusing on every aching joint for up to 10 minutes. This makes the joints supple and ready for a more demanding activity. Before the actual massage, warm up the tissue around the joint by petting the area. Progress with circular motions and from time to time, try to compress the muscle. To cool down, end the warm up by petting the joint area.
You can do joint- massage for your dog before doing exercises
An important reminder: joint massage is to be administered to those joints that have minimal pain. Joints that suffer from serious arthritic pains should not be massaged. Wait until the pain has decreased.
Introduce Low-Impact Routine Exercises
Exercise for dogs with joint problems is very crucial. Therefore, a pet owner like you should be well-informed about appropriate exercises. Think of exercises that do not strain the joints too much. Begin with low-impact exercises that are also considered high resistance workouts. When you use low-impact activities, you only apply less weight on the pet’s joints. With high resistance routines, the focus is on developing your pet’s muscles and strengthening them, making them highly resistant and stronger. These types of exercises do not stress the joints of your dog.
Begin with low-impact exercises that are also considered high resistance workouts
Examples of low-impact but high resistance exercises are the following:
- Simple Walking
Simple Walks: A very good exercise for dogs with joint problems is walking. Start with a 5-minute or 10-minute walk each day on a flat surface. If you have a grassy lawn, that would be perfect. If it’s cold or if it’s raining or snowing, you may stay indoors.
Go for short-distance walks. Avoid bumpy and hilly areas. Climbing, although it involves walking, is not considered simple walk. This would put extra pressure on the joints and induce pain.
Start with a 5-minute or 10-minute walk each day on a flat surface
Swimming: Another low-impact but high resistance exercise for dogs with joint problems is swimming. This allows your pet to move his legs in the water and exercise his muscles without straining the joints. Short sessions of up to 10 minutes are a great way to start. A big bathtub with warm water is good enough for a start. Later on, as he develops stronger and resistant muscles (with lesser pains), you may want to take your pet to a dogs’ pool, a river or a pond nearby. There you may let him do simple tasks that he has learned in the past like catching a ball or picking up a toy.
Swimming allows your pet to move his legs in the water and exercise his muscles without straining the joints
Hydrotherapy: A wonderful breakthrough and a great exercise for dogs with joint problems is hydrotherapy, which is done by having the dog walk on an underwater thread mill. This is a specially designed thread mill for dogs placed in a water container, usually made of glass material. Short thread mill walks – like 5 or 10 minutes – three times a week or even every day are ideal.
Make Your Dog Comfortable
There are other great things to do as you think of exercise for dogs with joint problems.
Soft Surface. Your vet will most likely recommend that you let your pet do his exercise on a comfortable or soft surface, and I agree. You may consider such things as a mattress, sofa, carpet or a grassy area. Hard surfaces put more stress on the joints of your animal friend, so avoid pavements, hard floors, etc.
Observe Limits. Do not overdo the exercises for your dog. Stay within his stress or pain threshold.
Do not overdo the exercises for your dog
Cool Down. Do not forget to let your pet cool down his muscles after every exercise routine. Repeat the motion exercises done during warm up, but this time you do each of them within a minute or so only.
Warm Environment. It is important that your dog stays in an environment that is warm and comfortable. Never let him stay in an area without a heater during cold months. After swimming, dry him immediately and let him rest on a soft dog bed or a thick blanket.
(OPTIONAL ENDING: Who said that exercise should be pain-inducing? On the contrary, you can make the whole exercise experience therapeutic and soothing for your pet. The key is choosing the right and comfortable warm-up routines and exercises.)