Next month Sampson will be ten years old. By all rights he is a Senior Dog. According to Pet’s Web MD he is 66 years old in human years, while Pedigree’s Age Calculator says he is 75. I’m going with Pet’s Web MD. Delilah’s age (she is 1 1/2 dog years behind Sampson) is calculated by Pet’s Web MD as 55, while Pedigree ages her at 61. Delilah is also considered to be a Senior Dog. While Senior dogs still need daily exercise, there comes a certain age where exercise modifications need to be made.
And we apparently are there.
According to Sampson’s Physical Therapist, when you are exercising with your pet and begin to see signs of tiredness it’s too late. You should stop exercising your pet BEFORE they become tired. Since Sampson’s ACL surgery, I have really become more aware of signs of tiredness. While he seems to pant the minute we walk out the door on leash, there comes a certain point where his face sort of wrinkles up and I’ve come to realize, that is his tired face.
So we have a Senior Dog, who has had ACL surgery. Our surgeon has deemed Sampson a “slow healer” as he is not where most dogs are this far into the recovery process.
We did an 8 week course of 2x per week of physical therapy. During these sessions the majority of the therapy included cold laser treatments and the underwater treadmill. When those initial sessions were finished, Sampson still wasn’t using his leg enough for us to get exercises at home, so we signed up for another 10 sessions of underwater treadmill. These sessions are spaced out to one per week.
I’m not going to whine about the cost of these sessions because I pay the money gladly to help Sampson feel better, I will just say this, there comes a point where I can’t pick anymore money off the tree.
So what can we do?
Well Sampson needs to build up the muscles in his legs and one of the best ways to do this (besides the underwater treadmill, which has a price tag larger than some houses) is to climb hills.
We score on this since we live about 3/4 up a hill. When we walk, at some point we are going up a hill. To increase the amount of time Sampson uses his legs walking up hill, I do something I’m calling, “Hill Climbers.” What I do is shorten the distance of our actual walk, BUT two to three times during our walk when I find myself on a decent pitch I sing out, “Hill Climbers.” At which time, I turn us around and head back down the hill for about 30 paces.
When I reach the 30th or 40th step, I again sing out, “Hill Climbers” and we turn around and head back up the same stretch of hill.
Our walking pace is very slow, so to help myself feel like I’m really exercising, when I start back up that hill I suck in my gut and walk on my toes for those 30 to 40 steps.
Truthfully I have to say, I think Sampson is walking better. He still compensates for his leg, but in general I feel like he is using it more, putting more weight on it and walking with less and less of a limp.
I think our hill climbers are helping.
Just because our dogs are older or not physical capable of traditional exercise, doesn’t mean we should stop working with them, it simply means we need to find a form of exercise that works for them.
So how about you? Have you made any types of modifications to your dogs exercise routine as they’ve aged? Any tips on how to help him build up his muscles?