Friday, 17 August 2012

keeping older dogs active for their health's sake

Catalyst, the science show, had a segment recently on the damage to our bodies caused by sitting. I've made a promise to myself that I will intersperse computer activity with regular breaks, and I've set the computer's clock to speak the time each fifteen minutes, as a reminder.

This got me wondering about Penny's level of activity - or more precisely, inactivity. Lately she dozes a lot. We hadn't taken much notice of it, because of the generally held belief that dogs sleep more than we do. We also put it down to the fact that she is now a senior dog. I looked around the internet to check this belief, but didn't come across any more details about how long a dog could be expected to sleep than I did when I posted on this topic five years ago.

This article at lifehacker details the changes our human bodies experience if we sit still. Pretty scary.

I guess the equivalent activity for dogs would be lying down. I think the key factor in the danger of sitting is that we don't move and so the electrical activity in our muscles slows down. (The article explains the consequences that follow.)  It seems to me that this could similarly be a problem for household dogs who lie around too much.

So let's see if I can keep up my resolution to do something active with Penny (low-level activity is okay, apparently) as often as possible. (We went for a seven-minute walk around the block during the writing of this post.) One thing I will try is commanding her to come outside with me when I hang out the washing, or pull a few weeds. She no longer bounds off her comfy bed to come with me. I think I can achieve it if I take one of her favorite toys with me.


Honey the Great Dane said...

Gosh, if you think Penny is bad...try living with Honey! :-) I always say she's like an extra piece of furniture...and this isn't even due to aging either - she has always been a really lazy dog, can't be bothered to get off her bed, etc. Takes a lot to motivate her - which is why training has always been a challenge. She's perfectly happy dozing her day away! :-)

I have heard that dogs are supposed to sleep about 18hrs a day...Honey DEFINITELY gets that quota in! ;-)

I think your plan of getting Penny to accompany you around the house to do stuff is a good one - little bits of gentle activity is better than big, sudden blocks. Do you walk her every day? I always think that a walk every day - even if just a short, gentle stroll around the blog - is best for health. It's what we try to do with Honey and I do believe it's a contributing factor to her remaining pretty fit & agile for her age.

Gosh, when you think of the HOURS I spend sitting at the computer every day.,..I shudder to think!!


parlance said...

Hsin-Yi, I think we are seeing Penny more cheerful and active already.

Yes, we do walk every day. I'm quite obsessive about it, lol, so sometimes it's in the evening, but mostly in the daytime.

Remember, when you're on that computer, be kind to yourself and walk around energetically for two minutes at least in every hour. The study is quite scary about how sitting can harm us.

Lassiter Chase and Benjamin said...

Hi Penny, we saw your comment on our blog. We didn't write anything about a tunnel. But the tunnel idea sounds great.

parlance said...

Thanks, Lassie and Benjie
On the blog of the person who did write that comment about a tunnel, I think there is a dog called Benjie who looks like you, Benjamin.