By Sally Perkins
Keep your older dog safe while having fun outdoors with you
The wide array of dog parks and dog-friendly beaches have made Florida the ideal state for those who love nothing more than a nature adventure with their furry friend. If you have a senior dog, there is no reason to forego nature escapades, so long as your pooch is in good health and enjoys new sights and sounds. By following a few handy tips, you can ensure your pooch stays safe while enjoying a heart-healthy workout in the great outdoors.
Picking the right spot
If your dog has heart disease or other conditions that make them easily fatigued, they should be taken out for short walks only, as prescribed by their vet. Dogs who are used to energetic days out and who love nothing more than to fetch or catch a frisbee, meanwhile, will love having a swim at Gulfside beach, chasing a frisbee at Fort de Soto Dog Beach Park, or freely running alongside other pooches at Jupiter Beach. On sunny days, parks such as Vero Beach Dog Park, Brohard Paw Park, or Picnic Island are also ideal for these activities. Find a nice shady spot beneath a tree so your dog can rest between activities.
Sleeping under the stars
One way to give your senior dog plenty of time outdoors without over-stressing him is to go camping. Pet-friendly campsites include The Campsites at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort (which evokes the timeless beauty of the American frontier), North lakes Estates Resort (with lots of activities and bike riding trails), and Riverside RV Resort & Campground (with plenty of gated areas for dogs to run around in). If you will be camping in a tent rather than your RV, bring along an adventure set that contains essential items like sleeping bags, backpacks, a tent, and all items you and your dog need to be comfortable. Senior dogs can be more vulnerable to the heat and cold; a doggy sleeping bag or ‘igloo-style’ bed will help him feel warm and comforted on cool nights.
Bringing the right supplies
If you will be out and about all day, ensure your dog stays hydrated. Senior dogs are more susceptible to heatstroke so it is important to prevent a life-threatening condition in your pooch. Bring a collapsible dog water bottle and a parasol if you are the beach, so your dog can enjoy plenty of shade. If your dog has short fur or is sensitive to the sun, a dedicated doggie sunscreen will ensure he does not suffer any burns. Your dog will work up quite a sweat so bring treats to keep his energy up until the next meal time.
If you can think of nothing more appealing than spending time in the arms of Mother Nature, you can continue to do so, even as your dog gets a little older. Forego tough mountain adventures, choosing verdant parks and soft sandy beaches instead. Think ahead of all your pooch might need and remember to bring his favorite blanket, toys, and a snack as a reward for being an active dog who can’t wait to fly off the couch and head for the world of mystery that lies outside your door.