What kind of exercise and supplements are best?
It is not common for me to start an article about dogs with a story about humans, but why not break the rule today.
Last year, we lucked out and got a three day campsite reservation at Lake O’Hara, one of the most beautiful areas in the Rockies.
The hiking around the lake is breathtaking but also quite challenging. On the second day we met some lovely people who were in their early sixties, Shelley and Jeff. We chatted, admired their fitness level and attitude to hike the steep hills at their age.
“Oh, that is nothing” replied Shelley and pointed at the steepest trail on the other side off the valley called 'All Souls'. “My mother and father come here every year. They are 83, and they are hiking over there today!!”
My jaw dropped and almost immediately I had a thought. If every dog year is seven human years, Skai too would be 84 and he had done four days of hiking this week including 'All Souls.'
Many people ask me how come Skai is such a happy and mobile senior. That is why I decided to put together these 7 steps on how to keep your dog mobile and strong.
- Start a good exercise regime at an early age if possible. My experience is that most people either under-exercise or over-exercise their dogs. Two hours a day is ideal plus you and your dog will feel great. If you do not have enough time, ask a friend, a family member or create a convenient arrangement with someone who is in the same situation and trade dog walks!
- A good variety of exercise is crucial, one-sided exercise can lead to injuries and overuse. I know some people do not Ike to hear it, but ball or frisbee chasing for extended periods of time every day leads to your dog becoming stiff and injury prone quite early on. Just think about it, dogs evolved to chase prey for seconds, not 15 minutes or longer at a time. My daily routine with Skai usually involves jogging, up hill hiking or a fun obstacle and agility course in the forest with breaks in between and a lighter walk later on in the day with some fun play in the park – hide and seek, recognizing toys by their names, walking in the neighbourhood or a city walk a few times a week, sniffing and meeting other dogs and people.
- If your dog appears stiff, quite often it is due to muscle stiffness and not joint inflammation even though either is possible. Regular chiropractic or physiotherapy adjustment is not a luxury, but a great and responsible way to look after your pooch. Each treatment is like a deposit in your dog’s health account.
- Teach your dog to stretch on command. Teaching a simple down dog position can go a long way! If your dog can sit, he can do a down dog. You can also do a hind leg stretch by positioning your dog standing in between your legs, facing his or her tail and stretching the legs in a ‘wheelbarrow’ like position for 30 seconds or so.
- Avoid Metacam, Rimadyl and Aspirin or other anti-inflammatory drugs. They may make your dog look less stiff and mask injuries. However, in the long run, these drugs cause liver disease, kidney disease and slow down the healing process. To target proper healing and joint regeneration, I suggest that you use Arnica homeopathic remedy in the acute stage of the injury. GlycoFlex for joint support and Zyflamend (more info at the end of the article) as a natural anti-inflammatory alternative that is clinically tested to be effective in reducing inflammation and promoting healing of injured tissue. The additional benefit of Zyflamend is that it contains turmeric – a powerful superfood that is believed to have strong anti-cancer properties.
- If your dog gets injured, rest him and gradually increase the level of exercise. Impatience leads to chronic injuries. If the problem doesn’t improve in a few days, have your dog examined to avoid further complications. Ensure that your vet knows that you would prefer natural treatment methods as opposed to drugs that mask pain and cause possible side effects. If lameness is present, do not rely only on the opinion of your vet as most veterinarians have not be sufficiently trained in spinal adjustment or physical therapy.
- Regeneration is hugely dependent on the availability of essential nutrients such as minerals, vitamins, essential fatty and amino acids plus good probiotics. The older your dog gets, the more important it is to ensure that the right natural building blocks are available. Kibble and especially carbohydrate based diets play a huge factor in symptoms of arthritis. Natural raw or cooked diet is essential in preventing joint disease and stiffness.
Below is a list of supplements recommended for a stiff or arthritic dog
GreenMin (minerals, amino-acids, detox)
SoulFood (naturally cultured certified organic multi-vitamin)
Zyflamend (natural anti-inflammatory supplement)
GlycoFlex 2 (medium stiffness) – natural joint support
GlycoFlex 3 (advanced stiffness) – natural joint support
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PS: To keep your dog mobile and healthy, consider also reading this related blog on Detox and Cleanse.