Six tips for walking your elderly dog

Elderly dog sitting by a window © RSPCA

Did you know that as dogs get older they may start growing greys, just like us! Most commonly on their muzzle and around their eyes. They might also start becoming less active, tiring out more easily, and not hearing or seeing quite as well as they used to.

Different dogs age at different rates, and life expectancies can vary quite widely between breeds.

Just because your dog’s getting older, doesn’t mean they don’t still crave the same amount of love and attention as they did when they were a wriggly young pup. Old dogs still need regular exercise and plenty of mental stimulation.

Here are six points that it may be useful to consider when walking a dog who’s a little on the wiser side.

Walking your elderly dog

  1. Age is just a number, but distance isn’t.

    Your older dog may begin to struggle with longer walks. The key is to make your walks shorter, but more frequent. That way, your four legged friend is still getting regular exercise, but you aren’t tiring them out all in one go.

    If you notice your dog beginning to tire much more easily than they used to, consult your vet first to check there isn’t an underlying medical issue.

  2. Your older dog may need a bit of help staying warm and dry.

    Elderly dogs can feel the cold a bit more than their younger counterparts. If your dog has begun to get chilly out on walks, it may be time to invest in a well-fitted, warm, waterproof coat for them.

  3. Getting older may mean that your dog is less aware of their surroundings.

    Their hearing and sight might not be what they once were, and they may generally be slower to react. Try keeping a closer eye on them while out walking, and if those ‘senior moments’ become more frequent, talk to your vet.

  4. As your dog ages, they will need to be fed differently.

    Old dogs need different nutrition to keep them healthy, and if they’re becoming generally less active, they may be more likely to put on weight. Switching to a specialist diet for elderly dogs may help. It’s a good idea to speak to your vet, who will be able to advise you on feeding your senior dog.

  5. You may need to give your senior dog a bit more help getting comfortable between walks.

    From making sure they have a supportive, soft bed to rest and recover on, to helping them out with regular nail trims when they’re no longer active enough to wear them down as much as they used to.

  6. Rest and recovery after walkies is really important.

    Although your elderly dog still needs regular exercise, you may find that they need to rest more too. It’s important to make sure that they have a quiet space where they can rest undisturbed by other members of the family.

    You can help them rest by making sure that their food, water, toys and bed are all close together and easy to access.

For more advice on helping your senior dog stay healthy and happy, download our senior dogs information sheet (PDF 308KB).

If you notice any changes in your pet’s behaviour, or have any concerns, it’s always worth talking to your vet. No question is stupid, and although many things may seem to just be down to old age, there may be a medical reason that needs treatment.

Share this...