Since November is National Adopt a Senior Pet month and November 17 is National Take a Hike Day, what better way to keep your beloved senior pet in shape than to start taking them for frequent hikes? Just because they have a little gray around the muzzle, doesn’t mean they should be excluded from a fun, outdoor adventure!
There are several things to keep in mind when exercising an older pet, such as the length of the walk, the outside temperature and any medical issues. Ensure that both you and your pet have a positive experience hiking together by keeping these tips in mind:
Impaired vision/hearing: it’s not uncommon for senior animals to have limited vision or hearing loss. Be sure to keep a careful eye on them so they don’t wander off and become lost on the trail. You may want to keep them on a leash for their own protection.
Special needs: there are a number of health issues that older pets develop such as diabetes, arthritis and hypothyroidism, just to name a few. This doesn’t mean your pet should stay home, however! Just make sure your veterinarian gives you the green light when taking your pet on hikes and bring any medications with you, just in case.
Keep your expectations realistic: your dog may have been able to cruise through a five mile run in their youth, but a senior pet may be limited to just a fraction of that. Make sure to bring an ample amount of water and offer it often. If your pet hasn’t had a lot of exercise lately, start out slow to make sure they don’t overdo it.
Time it right: keep in mind that older animals are more susceptible to temperature changes/extremes. In the summer, attempt to go during the cooler hours of the day, preferably in the morning or evening, and if you take your pet out in the winter, consider outfitting them with booties and a jacket/sweater.
Make an appointment at Little Traverse Bay Veterinary Clinic to have their overall health evaluated to make sure they are healthy enough to taking hiking. To make an appointment, please call 231-622-6363.