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Keep Your Senior Dog in Shape

Your black Labrador retriever, Chance, has always had boundless energy, bouncing around the yard like he has springs on his feet. Chance can also play “fetch the tennis ball” until he tires you out. Chance’s idea of a walk around the block is also a bit different from yours. He lopes down the street at a good pace, often stopping to greet his canine buddies and their humans along the way. Lately, though, Chance seems to be operating at half his normal speed, and you’ve noticed his muzzle is getting a little gray. Because you want to keep Chance active as he grows older, you’ll ask your Colorado Springs veterinarian to recommend some safe exercise options for your canine family member.

 

Why Your Dog Is Slowing Down

Chance could be slowing down for several reasons. First, you stand guilty of plying Chance with treats, and his overindulgences have caught up with him. Chance’s stomach has taken on a barrel-like look, and this increased weight is causing his joints to experience above-normal stress. Chance’s osteoarthritis has also caused joint degeneration, and his extra belly weight isn’t helping that condition, either. So far, Chance has escaped rheumatoid arthritis, which would greatly limit his ability to exercise during a flare-up. He also doesn’t have hip dysplasia, a congenital ailment that can put older dogs through the wringer. Ask your vet to make sure Chance’s heart function is normal, as decreased efficiency could leave him abnormally winded.

 

Exercising in the Great Outdoors

Since Chance doesn’t know he needs to ramp down his outdoor workouts, you’ll have to make the adjustment for him. Ask your vet to identify the kinds of exercise Chance can easily handle. Your busybody dog will probably still enjoy a stroll through the neighborhood or along a wooded path full of enticing smells. If Chance loves the water, and you have a nearby pond or lake, remember swimming provides a fun workout without stressing his joints. If Chance insists on playing fetch, decrease the game’s intensity to match his energy level.

 

Getting the Run of the House

Maybe Chance likes to spend lots of time indoors, especially when he can commandeer the entire couch for his nap. Before he dozes off, help him practice his obedience skills by walking him through the halls. With your Colorado Springs vet’s approval, ask Chance to slowly follow you up and down the stairs, allowing him to climb and descend at his own pace.

 

When exercising Chance outside, let him slurp up plenty of water, even in cooler weather. Make sure he doesn’t overextend himself, as that increases his injury risk. Most importantly, relax and enjoy the ride with your enthusiastic canine playmate.

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