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Swimming for Senior Dogs

Fitness For Senior Dogs

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A dog's metabolism tends to slow down as they age, much like we do, and physical fitness can decline steadily. The joints get a little less limber, food tends to sit where it's not supposed to after being eaten, and even the healthiest dog can slowly pack on pounds as the years pass. Add in any joint disorders, like arthritis or dysplasia of the hips or elbows, and your formerly fit dog may wake up at age nine (optimistic guess-timate) and turn into a couch-hound, content to do nothing more strenuous than walking to his food dish.

What can you do when your dog decides chasing a ball just isn't worth the aches and pains anymore? Swimming is a terrific substitute for long, hard runs when your dog just isn't up to it anymore. I asked about using swimming as an exercise option for arthritic dogs:
"The best [benefit of swimming for arthritic patients] is you can have graduated exercise that is non weightbearing. Even resisted exercises are non-weightbearing so that they can maintain or increase muscles strength without causing further injury to damaged bones and/or joints." - Cynthia Rawlinson, MRCSP (Member of the Royal Chartered Society of Physiotherapists)


Other Benefits of Swimming:
Swimming can increase your dog's heartrate, increasing blood flow, and improving lung capacity, without the damage a hard run on land would do.

If you live near lakes, or ponds (I don't recommend rivers, because of the strong currents that can flow under the surface), swimming can be a source of free entertainment and exercise, and if you live in right climate, a year-round activity.

If There's No Free Access to Water
Believe it or not, there are facilities available just for pets to swim, and you can even buy your own pet spa/pool, although that might be a bit beyond the average dog owner's budget.

A Few Canine Hydrotherapy Facilities It's fun, it's often free (weather/location permitting), and it's a great way to keep in shape, or just get some good exercise without straining arthritic joints. Take your dog swimming!
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