As our pets begin to age, issues with mobility and stiffness may become part of their daily lives. But it doesn’t have to slow them down!
Stretching is Priceless
Proper stretching can help our dogs release stiffness, soreness, aches and discomfort. If you have an athletic dog or a large to giant breed dog, stretching is even more critical!
“An arthritic joint can stiffen up and some range-of-motion exercises can help preserve function, as well as decrease pain.”
(Veterinarian Christina Fuoco, medical director at Philadelphia’s Whole Animal Gym)
Daily stretching can help alleviate:
- Joint problems;
- Loss of muscle sizes and tone;
- Limited range of motion; and
- The loss of flexibility.
NOTE: Before implementing any new stretching exercises, consult your veterinarian. It’s vital to understand any limitations or discomfort a K9 may be feeling especially in the presence of arthritis. Together, you can decide on the appropriate amount of activity.
4 Easy K9 Stretches
Stretching does not have to be elaborate or barely stretch?
“One of the best ‘stretches’ is actually just moving the joint through range-of-motion and not putting significant tension on the muscles,” – Dr. Fuoco explains.
All stretches should be gentle, not overextend nor cause additional discomfort. Never force your dog to cooperate.
Moving each joint through its normal range-of-motion offers significant benefits by:
- Warming the joint fluid; and
- Improving the blood flow to joints and muscles offering healing and less pain.
The Play Bow
The bow is common dog body language to initiate play with each other and their humans. The chest is low to the ground, front legs stretched out in front and the butt high in the air.
This stretch is perfect after walks or rigorous activity because it stretches not only the back but also groin muscles which can be overworked if the dog has any knee injuries.
Want your dog to do the play bow? Do it yourself and he’ll probably imitate you!
The Hip Flexion
If your senior dog is experiencing hip problems, this stretch can help!
- Have your dog lie on their side, place your palm over the upper back leg bone (to support the joint).
- Put your other hand under the leg lifting it parallel to the floor.
- Gently bend the knee and slowly guide the leg along the dog’s body until there is resistance.
- Hold for 20 to 30 seconds and release.
- Repeat 2 to 3 times each leg each day.
The Sit and Stand
Sometimes owners will stop asking their senior pups to sit. Actually, this may make things worse.
Unless your dog shows regular signs of resistance or aggression, it’s important to keep these joints regularly moving. According to Dr. Fuoco, “sitting and rising to a stand is a wonderful active exercise to help improve the range of motion in the hips and knees.”
The Back Stretch
The goal is to have your dog bend their body into a “c” shape.
- Have your dog stand in front of you and stand behind their tail.
- Guide their head back with their favorite treat.
- Slowly move the treat in a curved motion toward their tail (while keeping their back legs in place.)
- Repeat a few times in both directions daily.
Doing regular and consistent stretches will help with your dog’s overall physical and mental quality of life! Don’t wait until your dog begins to show signs of discomfort, stiffness or pain (they often hide it!), make it part of their daily routine long before that happens!
- 5 Stretches for Senior Dogs
- How Gentle Stretches Can Help Your Senior Dog Stay More Limber
- Four Simple Stretches to Keep Your Dog Moving
- Gold Souls, Gray Faces: 6 Indoor Exercises for Senior Dogs
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