Similarly to us, it is important for our dogs to exercise regularly to maintain a healthy lifestyle. In addition to exercise, stretching can improve your dog’s mobility and quality of life. Regardless of their age, stretching and strengthening can help with pain and may reduce the need for medications and surgeries in the future.
Most of our ageing canine community will develop arthritis as they age, and although this may not be completely preventable we can do our best to decrease the onset and help them live long and healthy lives. Regular exercise and therapies such as stretching and physical therapy are important to maintain a high quality of life. It is also important to keep your dog on an appropriate diet and keep them lean. Obesity can lead to a multitude of problems and joint pain is a big one!
Stretching will only take a few minutes a day and is extremely beneficial, especially after exercise.
There are multiple parts of the body that can be stretched, but there are a few in particular that are very beneficial: shoulders, chest, back, and hips.
- Stretches should be done gently and slowly to ensure they are well tolerated by your dog.
- If you are unsure of how to stretch your dog, please contact your veterinarian or canine physiotherapist.
Stretching the shoulder flexor
The shoulder flexors can be stretched in a stand or when lying down on their side. If your dog has mobility issues or pain, it would be recommended to stretch them while lying down. Grasp the forearm gently in front of the elbow and stretch the limb forward while staying parallel with the ground. Hold the stretch for 15-30 seconds. Repeat with the other side
Stretching the chest
Stretching the chest can be performed in a sit position or lying on their back. This stretch involves gently moving the limb away from the chest to the side. Hold the stretch for 15-30 seconds. Repeat with the other side.
Stretching the hip flexors
While in a stand or lying on their side position, gently extend the hind limb backwards. Keep the back and pelvis parallel with the ground. Hold this stretch for 15-30 seconds and repeat on the other side.
Stretching the back
These cookie stretches are a great passive stretch for the back! At a stand, slowly get your dog to follow a treat towards their tail. This will allow their body to bend in a C-shape. You can also bring the treat between their front legs to allow for a front bend. If your dog doesn’t want to follow the treat this may be due to back pain, and this should be addressed by your veterinarian.
Written By: Dr. Ashley Woo, Veterinarian