Activities for Senior Pets

Nov 25, 2019   Tracey Aston   Senior Pet Care

Senior pets may start slowing down, sleeping more and needing longer periods of time to recoup, but they still need to be kept active. Senior pets don't want to spend their lives in a bed, separate from the rest of the family. Thankfully, there are still many ways a senior pet can enjoy some fun! 

If the pet is still mobile and up for it, they can still take walks! Walks may have to be modified for distance and terrain but moving around, even at a slower pace, can actually help arthritis. Arthritic dogs that spend their days lying around are more likely to stiffen up than their counterparts who are still taking leisurely walks. 

Water loving dogs will enjoy the benefits of low-impact swimming as a way to stay active and fit. The buoyancy of the water is easy on the joints, provides support and will aid in keeping muscle strength for as long as possible.  Never leave a pet unattended in the water!  Pool ledges, floors and even kiddie pools can be very slippery and pose a fall risk for senior dogs who may have more of a problem keeping their footing.

If a pet is having mobility issues, or even if they just need a bit more fun after their modified walk, mental stimulation games can keep a pet's mind active and engaged. Mental stimulation games can be bought as puzzles or mazes from your favorite pet store or even made with things around the house like a muffin tin, plastic cups or toilet paper rolls! Our article on Mental Stimulation is full of great ideas for some mental exercise and fun. 

As they age, some pets may start to have vision impairment but they can still be included in the fun with scenting games! Treats can be hidden under cups, in tissue boxes or even your hands! 

The same as humans, as pet age their cognitive abilities will begin to decline. A pet parent can help keep their pet sharp with fun trick games. Even mobility challenged pets can be included!  These games could be as simple as learning the names of their toys and then being asked to point to that toy. For example, show the pet their toy ball and repeat the words “ball”, then choose a different toy and repeat that toy's name. After the pet has learned the names of all their toys, a line of toys can be set in front of them or put in different places around the house and ask the pet to get their favorite toy, or if mobility challenged, point to the toy. 

If the pet likes car rides and can still safely be lifted into the car and wear safety belts, a nice afternoon drive with the windows down, weather permitting, will allow the pet to smell the outside world and mentally stimulate them. 

If pets are having serious mobility issues or are no longer showing interest in toys, at the very least, allow them to spend in some in their own yard, even if all they do is lay in the sun, sniff the breeze and get some fresh air! Pets will vision, hearing or mobility issues should never be left alone outside due to the fall risk or injury from walking into objects. 

Older pets don't want to be left alone in a room to sleep all the time, and doing so may even make an older dog depressed and lethargic! Senior pets can easily still be included in family activities and thankfully with all the new mobility aids, most outings and fun can be adapted to your pet's comfort levels!  Aging isn't an easy process for anyone, but knowing you can still give your pet fun, exercise and quality of life in their senior years can add joy and togetherness at any age! 

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