Laurie's Blog


09 Feb 2019

Strong Old Dogs

What do you do with the old dog?  Let him rest?  Throw a bunch of cardio at him? Is there something that will help the senior dog live a little longer?  Well, there’s some human research that might shed some light.


A journal article, Muscular Strength as a Predictor of All-Cause Mortality in an Apparently Healthy Population: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Data From Approximately 2 Million Men and Women gives us some answers -


The aims of the present systematic review and meta-analysis were to determine the relationship between muscular strength and all-cause mortality risk in an apparently healthy population.  This article looked at 38 studies including 1,907,580 participants, in which there was a total of 63,087 deaths.  Higher levels of handgrip strength were associated with a reduced risk of all-cause mortality.  Also, adults with higher levels of muscular strength, as assessed by knee extension strength test, had a 14% lower risk of death compared with adults with lower muscular strength.

Fit Old Man

So, what does this mean to us?  Well, I think the answer must be in keeping our old dogs strong.  


I remember an old dog belonging to my in-laws.  She had suffered an injury, and subsequently, my mother-in-law was allowing her to stay indoors when she’d go for a walk instead of making the dog go on the walk.  When I questioned her about it, she said, “She old.  She doesn’t want to go for a walk.”  So, after Easter dinner, we stole her.  My husband agreed to it.  And when we were down the laneway, we phoned and told them that we had stolen their dog and would bring her back when she was rehabbed.  I walked that dog. I did therapeutic exercises with that dog.  And in the end, she did great!  And she got to go back home!


Currently, it’s been down in the -20s to -30’s (Celsius) and I’m not walking dogs.  It’s too cold. They don’t wear boots, and they don’t want to stay out for long.  As such, I’m noticing that the old shelties are showing some old age tendencies (a bit wobbly and sort of senile).  


All of which to say, I need to get them exercising.  They don’t need strenuous cardio.  They need some strengthening.  Some balancing.  Some sit to stands.  Some hill walking.  Some walks across the field.  Maybe put them on the treadmill for this cold snap.  Some obstacles.  Some brain games too.  Nothing fancy, but they need to move more… because potatoes don’t put on muscles!


So, when you are asked, ‘What can be done for my old dog?’  Suggest exercise.  Maybe some underwater treadmill, but also (and maybe more importantly) some specific exercises to build muscle.  A few exercise sessions in clinic would also serve as mental stimulation as well!  Win-Win!  Build that muscle!




Tags: strength , mortality , longevity , fitness , geriatrics , old dogs , build muscle

link to this post | email a friend

Not a member yet?
Sign Up Now

“Benefits of Membership”

  • Weekly training video or audio
  • Regular newsletter
  • Newsletter archives
  • Article archives
  • Audio & video archives

Blog Categories:
Blog Archives: