by Sloan McKinney
In November, it was the time to advocate for “Adopting An Older Dog,” and without going into the many positive rewards and attributes associated with this loving endeavor, it’s still simply the right thing to do. Don’t shop – Adopt!
While we’re skipping over the many positive accolades previously mentioned in that article that come along with this elderly adoption process, there’s still some important items that need consideration when it comes to their overall health, daily exercise needs and activity levels.
Some of these beloved, albeit older dogs, may come along with some health issues, but on the other hand, many of them are perfectly happy, healthy and still have quite a few years left ahead of them. Obviously this is a subject matter best discussed with licensed veterinarians, but likely they’ll agree that in the majority of cases, staying active will benefit both of you in the long run.
Dog Day Afternoon – Does Sleep, Size (or age) Really Matter?
We all know that canines can be the kings of sleepy time behavior, but you’d be surprised at some situations where bigger dogs lie dormant, while their smaller counterparts are awake. According to statistics from a Sleep.org study, while puppies require an inordinate amount of naptime, so do their older counterparts, often in fairly equal amounts.
But when you think about much larger breeds, like the Great Pyrenees, Mastiffs, Newfoundlands and St. Bernards, you’d think they’d need much more activity compared to smaller breeds. But, think again; these giant canines have been labelled as “mat dogs” because they spend tons of time simply lying around.
The lesson in this case perhaps: size doesn’t really matter when it comes to exercise, mobility and the daily need for more activity. Whether we want to lie around all day or not, we still need to be active regardless of age, stature or wanted activity levels. It’s much better to be active in order to keep aging bones, muscles and tendons in good shape.
But there’s an important balance that needs to happen when it comes to older dogs. We can’t run them ragged like younger canines, but they still need exercise and activity in order to keep them healthy. Where do we draw the line? It depends upon the circumstance(s) involved.
Keep It On The Up & Up
Given these boundaries, when it comes to their advancing age and size, should this make a difference in how we exercise these older pets? Absolutely! Think of it this way: if an aging animal suffers from arthritis, movement is important to their condition, but it shouldn’t be overdone to the point of suffering.
On the other hand, we must consider degeneration of their tissue and joints and make adjustments accordingly. Again, consultations with our veterinarian and daily routines will keep these older dogs in the best shape ever. Given some daily routines, regular walks around the block, playtime and even lounging around on the couch, a balance can be found.
On A Personal Note
I adopted an older, purebred Cairn terrier (like Toto from the Wizard of Oz) named Kady. Her elderly, human parents couldn’t take care of her anymore at the level she needed, so they gave her up (very admirable of them).
I was overjoyed to take on the responsibilities for this adorable little pooch; what a little love bug. When I got her, she was severely overweight, had issues with a yeast infection on her hind quarters, and some eye issues. She was still cute as a button and needed a good home.
After just a couple weeks of walking her every day, regular hygiene and a few eye drops, she was as good as new and happy as a clam. Along with my vet and my care, this little “baby” is still going strong and has become the love of my life with a great deal of happy days left.
She is so friendly, adorable, outgoing, well-adjusted, etc. It just takes a little bit of balance, love and acceptance in order to bring a best friend into your life regardless of their age. Just ask Kady! Her smile is worth a thousand words!