exercise

Walking Your Dog: Benefits Everyone

Taking your dog for a walk can have many benefits, for both you and your four-legged family members. Taking our dogs for a walk not only keeps them in tip-top shape, it also keeps the two-legged person healthy as well. Below are the top 5 reasons to take your dog for a walk:

 

1. Walking your dog can strengthen the bond between you both. Daily walks build a fun and trusting relationship. It gives you and your dog time to work on behavioral development, making them the perfect dog all around.

A nice walk around the Brohm Lake loop in Squamish.

A nice walk around the Brohm Lake loop in Squamish.

 

2. Walking your dog can encourage socialization. Along the way, you will run into many other dogs and owners out there. Exposing your dog to other dogs and humans will help in the future to adapt faster in new or intimidating situations.

Small dogs exploring.

Exploring the trails in the Smoke Bluffs area in Squamish.

Jessie and Axl

Little dog chasing big dog – very entertaining!

 

3. Walking your dog can promote weight control and digestive health. It is not healthy for your dog to be overweight. It is hard on their joints, as well as their internal organs. Daily walks stimulate your dog’s digestive system to stay in proper working order.

Eli apple

“An apple a day keeps the doctor away!”

 

4. Walking your dog can help diminish destructive behavior and unwanted hyperactivity. Your dog enjoys having a task to complete or participate in. Going for a walk will not only tire them out, but will also give them a sense of accomplishment.

Burning as much energy as possible.

Burning as much energy as possible.

In the forest

These little dogs feel so accomplished after every walk.

 

5. Walking your dog can boost your health. Spending time outside can boost your overall well-being. Having your dog as a fun exercise partner can help lower your blood pressure, help you shed a few pounds, help strengthen your muscles and put a big smile on your face!

A little kiss to say thank you for the fun walk!

A little kiss to say thank you for the fun walk!

Enjoying the sand at Nexen beach, downtown Squamish.

Enjoying the sand at Nexen beach, downtown Squamish.

Keep Fit, Stay Lean, Keep Clean and Pet Often

The following are some tips to help lengthen your senior dog’s life:

Keep Fit

Regular exercise is great for the body and brain. Physical fitness can help keep your dog’s heart and lungs in good working order, help keep their joints and muscles in check, prevent boredom to help stop any destructive behavior and give them a sense of purpose.

Exercising your senior pet doesn’t mean that they have to tear up an agility course for hours on end or hike up the Squamish Chief in under an hour twice a day. Only exercise your dog at a level their aging body can handle. Swimming is always a great workout for weak joints and muscles. A couple moderately paced 20-minute walks every day can also work wonders for keeping your senior dog in shape.  Being outside is also great for your senior dog’s mind. There are many stimuli to keep their brains sharp and fresh air will always brighten spirits.

When indoors with your dog, play games such as hide-and-seek or practice tricks (yes, you really can teach an old dog new tricks!) for low calorie treats. Keeping busy with different activities and games throughout the day will give their senior brains a new lease on life.

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“Axl” and “Eli” thinking about practicing their skills on the agility course.

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“Molly” leaping and bounding in the snow at Callaghan Valley last winter.

Stay Lean

Keeping your senior dog’s body nice and lean will help prolong their life. Extra weight visible on the outside of their bodies also means there is extra fatty tissue around their organs, which could cause them to have a hard time working efficiently. Having to carry all that extra weight around means more strain and stress on their joints. Be careful not to feed your senior pet too many treats. It is always a great idea to meal feel them set amounts of food twice daily. Your veterinary team can help you to determine what their ideal weight should be and how much food you need to feed to reach the target weight goal.

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“Eli” demonstrating some self control.

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“Molly”, “Eli” and “Axl” patiently waiting for a treat.

Keep Clean

Brushing your dog’s teeth provides much more benefit than fresh breath. It helps eliminate plaque and tartar buildup, which help prevent gingivitis. Decreasing the amount of bacteria lurking in your dog’s mouth will help keep their internal organs working in tip-top shape. When their gums are swollen and irritated, the blood vessels become enlarged and are able to pick up bacteria to transfer around the entire body. Brushing your dog’s teeth once a day is ideal. Be sure to use a toothbrush with soft bristles and a toothpaste designed especially for dogs.

*Warning* Below are before dental prophylaxis and after dental prophylaxis photos of a dog’s mouth:

 

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Before.

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After.

Pet Often

Daily petting fests can often help you find lumps and bumps on your dog in their early stages of development. Your veterinarian can take a fine needle aspirate sample from the lump and determine what kind of cells it is made up of. Some lumps should be removed immediately; some lumps are ok to be left alone and just monitored. Hands-on attention to your dog could also help you find any skin irritations hiding under their hair or you may notice they have dry, flaky skin. A flinch or cry when petting in a certain area may alert you to take your senior dog to their veterinarian to have the cause of pain investigated further. Being petted and massaged makes your dog happy and helps lower their blood pressure and stress level, as well as yours.

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“Eli” cozy in his bed with his diaper on after being petted and massaged to sleep.

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