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Exercise for the Aging Canine

Exercise is Important for your aging dog

Jasper 14.5 year old Field Lab – Exercised regularly

Exercise is Golden for the Aging Canine

Aging should be a journey, not a destination. For our dogs, unfortunately the journey occurs at an accelerated rate. So what helps some dogs (and their humans) defy the typical aging stages? Research tells us that a big part of the answer lies with exercise.

When dogs age and show signs of slowing down we tend to relax our vigilance towards activity. While we may think we are doing our dogs a favor by taking it easy on them, in reality science tells us that we have super-charged the process of aging. In fact, by reducing exercise and activity we are causing our dogs to age faster than they would have with just aging alone.

How Does Exercise Help the Aging Process?
Of course aging is inevitable, and how rapidly the process happens is definitely influenced daily by genetics, the environment, nutrition and exercise.  However, of these influencers, exercise could easily be labeled the secret ingredient for the fountain of youth.

Essentially exercise works by boosting the signal that tells the cells to repair and regenerate themselves in all of the bodies systems, even during the senior years.

It also has a huge impact on stress levels because it triggers the release of chemicals that positively influence energy level, behavior and helps rid the body of stress related toxins.  The health benefits of exercise on the mind, body, and longevity are difficult to ignore.

According to Dr. Clyde Fraz Wilson, Director of the Center of Nutrition at Stanford Sports Medicine Institute, there are three main reasons why exercise promotes health:

A Body in Motion – Stays in Motion. Use of the body’s systems: circulatory, respiratory, skeletal, nervous, muscular promote strength and functionality.

Feel-good Endorphins.
Hormonal response to movement improves psychological health.

Increased Metabolism.
Movement increases metabolism for hours after movement occurs and, as a result, reduces the risk of almost every major disease.

A Golden Dog Exercise Program
Moderation and proper form are essential components in designing a quality exercise program. Exercise in excess, or performed incorrectly can reverse the positive benefits gained. So if you are not certain where to start consider working with a Vet or canine professional skilled in physiology and specializes in movement to help build a solid foundation to help make your dog’s senior years golden.

Exercises that were easy for your dog to do at a younger age may need to be modified. However, it is important that some type of exercise should be done daily to continue to help improve physical and mental functionality. Here is an example of how to shape and track a week’s worth of exercise for your dog:

 Establish a Goal with Your Dogs ExercisEstablish a Goal
Sometimes the goal for senior exercise programs is to reduce pain, improve function and prevent disability. Ironically, the way to help with these movement limiting conditions is with movement.

On the other hand, there are many senior dogs that are still competing in Veteran competitions well into their senior years.

Whether exercise is for pain management, quality of life, or competition; professionals recommend following a multi-faceted therapeutic program that includes muscle strengthening, flexibility, cardio and mental exercises.  Adjustments to the program for types of exercises to do, intensity and duration should be made to account for breed, size, age, injury, or other illness limitations. Here are some basic guidelines to follow:

Suggested Golden Exercise Time and Frequency: For seniors, it is important to set aside (at a minimum) 20 to 30 minutes every day to activate their mind and body.


Rule of Paw:  Recognize your limitations and your dog’s, seek the expertise of a Professional Vet or a Canine Movement Specialist like a, Certified Canine Rehabilitation Practioner or Therapist, to help determine the best plan for your dog. Always watch for signs of stress or discomfort and reduce time, intensity accordingly. Remember canine exercise should be about fun. Do activities that you both enjoy.

Senior Dog Exercises should consist of:


DogTread Canine Fitness CoachAbout the Author: Anthony Woerner, PTA and CCRP  develops canine training programs to help bring performance dogs and companion pets to the next level of fitness. Combining his in-depth knowledge from working with both human and animal patients, he has achieved an excellent understanding of structure and movement.Anthony has developed the unique ability to understand breed specifics, structure, and movement. He uses his extensive knowledge and his healing hands to know how to best treat each animal. As a canine fitness instructor, his clients include dogs that compete on an elite level to the dogs that need fitness training to maintain a healthy lifestyle as a pet.


JasperLou_Krista_smAbout the Author: Krista Wickens is an athlete, lifestyle fitness advocate, author, speaker,  inventor, and co-founder of PetZen Products, a manufacturing and design company dedicated to designing canine fitness products and programs under the DogTread brand. She is also the co-author and producer of the first Treading for Dogs DVD and 30-day Dog Treadmill Training Program. As a former fitness product manager, Krista created best-selling products and programs used by some of the biggest names in Human Fitness, including iconic brands like Reebok, Gold’s Gym and NordicTrack. Krista’s love and understanding of animals, particularly dogs, started on a Montana Cattle Ranch where she was raised. She trained her first dog, Bear, at the age of 7. Her unique understanding of the mechanics of fitness and canine experiences have led her on a mission dedicated to helping develop healthy and beneficial relationships for dogs and their humans.



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