Dr. Karen Weeks, a veterinarian at Frontier Village Veterinary Clinic in Lake Stevens, answers another installment in a series of questions about the health issues aging dogs face.

weeksmug.JPGDr. Karen Weeks, a veterinarian at Frontier Village Veterinary Clinic in Lake Stevens, answers another installment in a series of questions about the health issues aging dogs face.

Question: What role does diet and exercise play in maintaining the health of an older dog? What do you recommend to clients to keep their dogs agile and mobile?

Answer: Diet and exercise play as an important a role in maintaining the health of older dogs as they do in older humans.

Good quality food will help feed aging cells, and exercise will help keep dogs mobile and feeling good.

Exercise also helps to prevent muscle wasting from inactivity.

When I say exercise, I mean consistent, low-impact exercise like walking or swimming. Working up to 30 minutes a day is a good goal for most older dogs. Some dogs can handle more strenuous exercise, like hiking or running, but it depends on their level of conditioning and what types of activities they are used to doing.

If you are finding that your older dog is debilitated after a hike, it might be time to rethink how hard you push or how long you go the next time.

The point, though, is that exercise is crucial to maintaining joint and muscle health, prevents obesity and it is a great way to spend time with your dog.

Question: How important is the quality of food?

Answer: Food quality is very important. There are many good brands out there that have done a lot of research regarding pet nutrition.