Hiking With an Older Dog

dog face
Your old dog can hike for years to come with the proper care.

Dogs are the best hiking buddies. Let’s count the reasons: They don’t complain, they can carry their own pack, they won’t make you listen to their bad guitar playing around the campfire, and they won’t make you feel guilty for eating the last bar.

Inevitably, however, our canine companions will slow down before we do, leaving us to determine the best balance between getting our dogs out to do what they love while also keeping them comfortable and safe. So how do you adjust for the limitations of aging in an old friend?

While not the only culprit behind their gradual slow down, arthritis is a common ailment in older dogs that you need to take into consideration when deciding what your dog can handle

“Obviously for hiking, good mobility is a foremost concern,” says Dr. Taylor P. Ludwick of Bishop Veterinary Hospital. “Luckily there are lots of options when your dog starts to hurt,” which could be as early as age seven for some dogs.

“Osteoarthritis is inevitable in any aged pet and often manifests as soreness after exercise, or difficulty rising from a resting position,” Ludwick adds. “While arthritis is not reversible, there are many medical treatments to slow the progression and alleviate the pain.”

Beyond giving her medication, the most important thing you can do for your senior pooch is to be sensitive to her needs. As the owner of a 12-and-a-half-year-old Malamute who still has the desire to get out there, here are some things I have found to be successful.

First, follow Fido’s lead and stop and smell the roses. When your dog was a…

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