I am a breeder of French bulldogs and have grown up with dogs my whole entire life and pretty much associate an old dog with a dying dog and they usually seem to be around 15 years of age. It wasn’t until I was an adult myself and started looking into other breeds that I was unfamiliar with that I learned that larger dog breeds have shorter lifespans than the medium to smaller breeds. This was a determination for me in choosing the French bulldog breed that seems to have on average a longer lifespan than other smashed face dogs like the boxer that has a lifespan of roughly 10 years. Whatever the length of life of your pet it just doesn’t seem like it’s long enough does it? As with humans it seems to be the case that when a dog ages they slow down. I have noticed the same in humans. The average older person seems to be less active than that same person was in their younger years. But contrary to what we do or think to be the norm, the fact is that the body associates aging with lack of activity so if you have a dog that is sedentary and doesn’t do much more than lay around the house and sleep you are certainly not encouraging this dogs longer lifespan.
I am not suggesting that an invalid animal or all dog diseases should be forced to run but I am asking you to consider the benefits of minimal but regular exercise. It works for humans and it works for animals. We could call it physical therapy. What I’m suggesting is regular small short doses of exercise that might increase over time or not, but definitely don’t ignore the possibility that stimulating the nervous system through even the most minimal exercise could help an older dog with his developing aches and pains or what generalized weaknesses that you might be observing.
I am speaking now from my own experience. I have a friend that has a 10-year-old dog that was diagnosed with degenerative nerve disease and the dog seems to be losing normal function of the hindquarters, periodically collapsing. The owner of the dog of course feels for her dog and doesn’t want to push her dog therefore babies the dog, one could say, and in the several days I’ve observed the dog it was not taken for walks and barely moves more than to take a Pee outside for a couple of minutes. So on day three I volunteered to take the dog for a walk but I was careful. I didn’t push the dog, but the dog was not panting and the dog did continue to move forward on the leash and by the end of only 30 minutes of a gentle walk around the block on a level surface the dog became obviously more agile in his hindquarters nearly swaying at all from left to right, walking forward with a much stronger strut.
Unless the dog or the human being is really ready to die, inflicted with dog diseases that are fatal, lack of activity can signal to the body to prepare itself for the state of decay which ultimately is death. There have been old people well into their 80s that have been sedentary for many many years that began regular exercise including cardiovascular exercise and after just a few weeks of continued gentle but daily exercise people that were in wheelchairs went to walker’s and after several months were able to periodically walk without even the walker. If this works for human beings and it has been tested how metabolisms change and brains function improves and internal organs function better, why not for dogs? If in humans only two changes in lifestyle, that of added exercise and also a purified diet, can make such a huge difference in nearly halting the aging process, I must then question the validity of this evidence in the health of an aging animal as well. I will have French Bulldogs for a long time to come and hope to perpetuate as long of a life span as possible.
Author: Dr. Marika Zoll is a clinical psychologist and breeder of French Bulldogs. Her site is http://frenchbulldogsla.com. She practices alternative medicine healing along with traditional preventive medicine.