Here are a few tips from our clinical advisor that every pet owner can use to assist their animals maintain health and fitness throughout their life:
1) Keep your pet at an appropriate weight. This is probably the one most important thing you can do to help your pet. Just as extra weight can lead to increased risks for heart disease, diabetes, arthritis and many other conditions in humans, so too, can it affect your pet. You should be able to feel your pet's ribs fairly easily as you run your hands along the side of their body. Also, they should have an "hourglass" figure, with a tuck in their waist, behind their ribcage, as you are looking at them from the top side. A nice visual reference, with more detailed information can be found at https://www.purina.co.uk/
dogs/health-and-nutrition/ exercise-and-weight- management/dog-body-condition- tool
2) Keep your pet moderately active. A steady amount of moderate exercise regularly will help your pet maintain muscle mass and keep the joints moving freely. Avoid the "weekend warrior" syndrome, where the pet only gets very short leash walks during the week, then goes out for a much longer hike, swim or ball play session only a day or two a week. This can lead to unnecessary pain in the joints and possible injury as the pet is not properly conditioned for the sudden increase in activity.
3) Have your pet see their veterinarian on a regular basis. In addition to checking heart, lungs and making sure your pet has the necessary vaccines, your veterinarian will also provide a hands-on exam, looking for tight muscles, limited range of motion and areas of pain. They can assist you in choosing supplements and prescribe medications as necessary to assist your pet's health and vitality.
4) Feed a high-quality pet food. Look for foods with a minimum of wheat, corn , soy and by-products in them. These ingredients have a higher incidence of allergic reactions, which can lead to itching and hair loss. The premium brand foods are more expensive, but you can usually feed a smaller amount, since there are fewer "filler" ingredients.
5) Consider support hardware for aging pets. For senior pets, provide a good quality, orthopedic-type dog bed for them that is supportive but soft to cushion their joints. Also be aware that as your pet ages, they may have more trouble gaining traction on hardwood and slick floors. You may place rug runners or area rugs in the areas where your pet walks the most, to prevent slips and falls. There are also products such as booties, rubberized socks and rubberized toe grips which can be placed onto the pet's feet to give them more traction.
6) Consult with a rehab therapist or vet. If you have a veterinary rehabilitation therapist or rehabilitation- trained veterinarian near you, it is well-worth getting an appointment with them to evaluate your pet, especially if you see your pet slowing down or having problems with mobility. These practitioners are experienced in palpating (feeling) for tight and/or weak muscles, stiffness in joints and assessing what is causing the mobility issues. They will recommend treatments and educate you in a home exercise/activity program as well as providing information on assistive devices, such as harnesses, booties and carts, which will help both you and your pet. To find a certified rehabilitation therapist/practitioner, visit http://