Not just a “lazy bones”!
If your dog seems to be tiring quickly on walks, don’t just chalk it up to “laziness” or old age. Certain medical issues can also reduce exercise tolerance – here are a few common ones that are worth bearing in mind for any older pet who’s slowing down a bit!
Mitral valve disease
This is a gradual thickening of the mitral valve inside the heart, which can cause progressive signs of decreased exercise ability, breathing difficulties and sometimes even fainting episodes or a swollen belly.
Some smaller breed dogs (such as cavalier King Charles spaniels, mini poodles, shih tzus, Maltese, mini schnauzers and cocker spaniels) are predisposed to this issue, particularly when middle-aged to older.
It’s estimated that over 80% of dogs will have some degree of arthritis by eight years of age or older!
Dogs particularly at risk of arthritis symptoms are those with pre-existing joint issues (such as hip dysplasia or loose kneecaps) or injuries, very active dogs and overweight dogs.
Symptoms of arthritis include a pet being slow, stiff and uncomfortable, particularly after particularly exuberant exercise or lying down for a while. Affected pets may also show reluctance to jump or climb stairs, or intermittent limping.
This is a condition that most commonly develops in middle-aged to older large or giant breed dogs, particularly labradors.
It involves a progressive nerve deterioration that prevents proper opening of the throat muscles during breathing. The most common symptoms are raspy or wheezy panting (particularly during exercise), reduced exercise tolerance and a changed bark, though affected pets may develop gradual weakness of their legs over several months as well.
Therefore, if your dog ever shows reduced exercise ability, we recommend that they come in for a visit with our lovely team. We can assess them for any potential underlying medical issues, and hopefully help put the wind back in their sails!