As our loyal companions age, it can be difficult to determine their exercise needs. Senior Shih Tzus, in particular, require extra attention when it comes to physical activity. On one hand, exercise has many benefits for a dog’s health and well-being. On the other hand, a sedentary lifestyle can lead to a host of health issues. So, how do we ensure our senior Shih Tzus get enough exercise without putting too much strain on their aging bodies? In this article, we will explore the special considerations that come with exercising senior Shih Tzus and provide fun and safe exercise ideas to keep your furry friend healthy and happy.

Why Senior Shih Tzus Need Exercise

Why Senior Shih Tzus Need Exercise
As your furry friend continues to age, it’s vital to maintain their physical health and well-being, especially when it comes to exercise. Senior Shih Tzus require daily exercise to stay healthy, happy, and active. Regular exercise not only helps maintain their weight and joint health, but it can also improve their overall quality of life. It’s essential to understand the importance of exercise for senior Shih Tzus, the benefits of exercise for senior dogs, and the health risks associated with a sedentary lifestyle. Let’s dive into the reasons why exercise is so important for senior Shih Tzus. To learn more about appropriate exercise activities, shih-tzu-exercise-importance website can provide comprehensive information.

The Benefits of Exercise for Senior Dogs

Regular exercise is important for senior Shih Tzus as it offers a range of benefits that help maintain both their physical and mental well-being. Here are some of the benefits of exercise for senior dogs:

Benefits of Exercise for Senior Dogs
Improves cardiovascular health, reducing the risk of heart disease, stroke and high blood pressure.
Helps maintain healthy joints, reducing the risk of arthritis and improving mobility.
Boosts the immune system, reducing the risk of infections and diseases.
Helps control weight, reducing the risk of obesity and related health problems such as diabetes.
Keeps muscles and bones strong, reducing the risk of injury and falls.
Reduces stress and anxiety, promoting overall mental well-being.
Provides mental stimulation, preventing boredom and cognitive decline.

Senior Shih Tzus that engage in regular exercise also tend to have a higher quality of life, greater longevity, and improved socialization skills. However, it’s important to note that as dogs age, their exercise needs change, and it’s important to adjust their routines accordingly. This involves paying close attention to their physical and mental health, as well as any underlying health conditions that may affect their ability to exercise comfortably.

To meet the changing needs of a senior Shih Tzu, it’s important to understand low-impact activities, indoor and outdoor exercise options, and the best exercise toys and games for them. Additionally, warm-ups and cool-downs must be a part of their exercise routine to reduce the risk of injury.

Health Risks of a Sedentary Lifestyle

A sedentary lifestyle can lead to several health risks for senior Shih Tzus, including obesity, heart disease, joint problems, and a weakened immune system. These risks can be exacerbated by lack of exercise, which can also lead to a decreased quality of life.

Obesity: Senior Shih Tzus who do not get enough exercise have a higher risk of obesity, which can lead to numerous health problems such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and joint pain. It’s important to monitor your dog’s weight and make adjustments to their diet and exercise plan as needed.

Heart disease: A sedentary lifestyle can also increase the risk of heart disease in senior dogs. Lack of exercise can lead to decreased cardiovascular health, which can lead to heart problems and a decreased quality of life.

Joint problems: Senior Shih Tzus are prone to joint problems like arthritis, and a sedentary lifestyle can exacerbate these issues. Exercise can keep joints flexible and help maintain muscle strength to better support the joints, reducing the risk of pain and stiffness.

Weakened immune system: Lack of exercise can also lead to a weakened immune system, making senior Shih Tzus more susceptible to illnesses and infections.

To avoid these health risks, it’s important to incorporate regular exercise into your senior Shih Tzu’s routine. Always consult with your veterinarian before starting any exercise regimen, especially if your dog has any preexisting health conditions.

You can learn more about your Shih Tzu’s exercise needs in our article on Shih Tzu exercise needs, common exercise mistakes to avoid in our article on Shih Tzu exercise mistakes, and get some tips on exercising and training in our article Shih Tzu training tips. Don’t forget to make exercising fun and stimulating with Shih Tzu exercise toys and games that will keep your senior Shih Tzu active and engaged.

Special Considerations for Exercise

Special Considerations For Exercise
When it comes to exercising senior Shih Tzus, there are some important factors that pet owners must take into consideration. As dogs age, their bodies become more prone to health issues, and their exercise needs change. Over-exercising or not providing enough physical activity can have negative consequences on their well-being. It’s crucial to understand special considerations for exercise with senior Shih Tzus. By doing so, you can make sure your furry friend gets the appropriate amount of exercise to keep them healthy and happy.

Heart, Joint and Dental Health

To keep your senior Shih Tzu healthy, it’s essential to pay attention to their heart, joint, and dental health. These three aspects of your dog’s well-being can significantly affect their overall quality of life. Here are some important factors to consider:

  • Heart health: A senior Shih Tzu’s heart isn’t as strong as it once was, so it’s crucial to choose low-impact exercises that won’t put too much strain on their heart. Gentle walks, short hikes, or swimming can help keep your dog’s heart muscles working without overexertion. It’s also essential to monitor your dog’s breathing during exercise and consult your veterinarian if you notice any irregularities.
  • Joint health: Just like humans, older dogs are prone to joint problems such as arthritis that can cause pain and stiffness. Engaging in regular exercise can help ease joint pain and maintain flexibility. However, it’s important to choose low-impact exercises such as leisurely walks, light fetch, or swimming as high-impact activities like jumping or running can worsen joint-related issues. Additionally, adding joint supplements to your dog’s diet and regular vet check-ups can help prevent joint problems from worsening.
  • Dental health: Dental issues are common in senior dogs, and regular exercise can play a role in maintaining good oral hygiene. Chewing on toys, bones, or dental chew sticks can help scrape off plaque and tartar buildup while also keeping your dog’s teeth strong. It’s also important to get regular dental check-ups from your veterinarian to identify and treat any dental issues before they worsen.

Keep in mind that as your dog ages, their health needs may change. It’s crucial to monitor your dog’s health regularly and consult your veterinarian about any concerns to ensure your senior Shih Tzu remains healthy and happy for years to come.

Low-impact Activities

As senior Shih Tzus are more prone to certain health issues, it’s essential to engage them in low-impact exercises that are gentle on their bodies. Low-impact activities help avoid any unnecessary strain on their joints, muscles and bones.

Here are some low-impact exercise options for senior Shih Tzus:

Walking on a TreadmillWalking on a treadmill at a slow speed can give your senior Shih Tzu a safe and steady workout. Start slowly and gradually increase the duration and speed.
YogaYoga incorporates slow and gentle movements, stretching, and breathing exercises. This low-impact activity can improve flexibility, muscle strength and balance while soothing the mind and body.
Stair ClimbingIf your home has stairs, gently guide your senior Shih Tzu up and down the stairs a few times a day. This activity can improve cardiovascular health and leg strength.
Slow-paced PlaytimeSenior Shih Tzus can still join in on playtime, but choose games that allow for a slow and calm pace, such as hide and seek or gentle tug-of-war with a soft toy.
StretchingGentle stretching can improve flexibility, increase range of motion and reduce stiffness. Incorporate some simple stretching exercises into your senior Shih Tzu’s daily routine.

Remember to always monitor your senior Shih Tzu’s response to any low-impact exercise and adjust accordingly. It’s important to keep them active, but always keep their safety and comfort in mind.

The Importance of Warm-Ups and Cool-Downs

It’s important to remember that senior Shih Tzus require special considerations when it comes to exercise. One of the most critical factors to keep in mind is the importance of proper warm-ups and cool-downs before and after exercise.

Why are warm-ups important?

Warm-ups help to prepare your senior Shih Tzu’s body for exercise by slowly increasing their heart rate, circulation, and body temperature. This helps to prevent injury and ensure that their muscles are ready for physical activity. Additionally, warm-ups can enhance your dog’s flexibility and range of motion, which is important for preventing joint pain and stiffness.

What are some good warm-up exercises for senior Shih Tzus?

There are several good warm-up exercises that you can do with your senior Shih Tzu. Here are a few examples:

Short WalksTake your dog on a short walk to get their body moving and heart rate up.
Gentle StretchingStretch your dog’s legs, neck, and back slowly and gently.
Light PlayPlay a gentle game of fetch or tug-of-war to get your dog’s blood flowing.

Why are cool-downs important?

Cool-downs are equally important to warm-ups. After exercise, it’s crucial to give your dog’s body time to rest and recover. Cool-downs help to gradually slow down your dog’s heart rate, decrease their body temperature, and prevent injury.

What are some good cool-down exercises for senior Shih Tzus?

Here are some examples of beneficial cool-down exercises:

Gentle MassageMassage your dog’s muscles to promote relaxation and prevent stiffness.
Slow WalksTake your dog on a slow walk to gradually decrease their heart rate.
Cool WaterOffer your dog cool water to hydrate and refresh.

Warming up and cooling down properly are critical for your senior Shih Tzu’s health and safety. Gentle exercises can help to prepare your dog’s body for activity and unwind after exercise, and they can provide numerous benefits for your furry friend’s overall well-being.

Adjusting Exercise to Match Your Dog’s Needs

As your senior Shih Tzu ages, their exercise needs may change. It’s important to adjust their physical activity to match their current physical ability and health conditions. Consult with your veterinarian before making any changes to your senior dog’s exercise routine.

Below is a table to help you adjust your senior Shih Tzu’s exercise routine based on their individual needs:

Physical ConditionRecommended Exercise
Heart DiseaseLow-intensity exercises like short walks, leisurely strolls, and swimming are recommended. Avoid strenuous activities that can cause too much strain on the cardiovascular system.
Joint ProblemsLow-impact exercises like walking and swimming are recommended. Avoid high-impact activities like jumping or jogging, as they can put too much pressure on the joints.
Dental IssuesAvoid exercises that involve chewing or playing with hard toys. Instead, focus on activities that don’t require excessive use of the mouth, like walking, swimming, or puzzle toys.
ObesityFocus on low-intensity exercises like walking and light play. Gradually increase the length and intensity of the exercise over time as your Shih Tzu improves their physical fitness.
Blindness or DeafnessStick to familiar, safe environments when exercising, like a fenced yard or an enclosed park. Consider using scent or touch cues to communicate with your Shih Tzu during exercise.

Remember, every senior Shih Tzu is different, and their exercise routine should be tailored to their individual needs. Make sure to monitor your dog’s behavior during exercise, and adjust accordingly.

Fun Exercises for Senior Shih Tzus

Fun Exercises For Senior Shih Tzus
Looking for fun and engaging ways to keep your senior Shih Tzu active? As our furry friends get older, they may require lower impact activities that still provide mental and physical stimulation. Fortunately, there are plenty of options available to keep your pooch entertained and happy. Here are some suggested exercise ideas for senior Shih Tzus.

Short Walks and Leisurely Strolls

As senior Shih Tzus are prone to joint and heart issues, they might not be able to handle vigorous activities like they used to. But that doesn’t mean they should stop moving altogether. Short walks and leisurely strolls are excellent forms of exercise for them.

Benefits of Short Walks and Leisurely Strolls:

Improves Heart HealthA short walk around the block can work wonders for a senior Shih Tzu’s heart health, promoting cardiovascular fitness and reducing the risk of heart disease.
Helps with Joint MobilityWalking keeps the joints mobile and lubricated, which can help alleviate joint pain and make movements easier for senior Shih Tzus.
Mental StimulationSenior Shih Tzus need mental stimulation just as much as they need physical exercise. Short walks and strolls provide different sights, sounds and smells, which can keep their minds engaged and active.
Bonding TimeWalking is an excellent bonding activity for owners and their pets. A short walk can provide quality time for owners to communicate with their senior Shih Tzus and build a closer relationship.

How to Maximize the Benefits:

To make the most out of short walks and leisurely strolls, owners must choose the right time of day to take their senior Shih Tzus out. Dogs are more likely to overheat in the afternoon, so it’s best to go out in the mornings or evenings when the temperature is cooler. Owners must take the time to stretch their pet’s legs before and after walks to improve joint mobility and reduce the risk of injury.

Warning Signs:

While walking is an excellent form of exercise for senior Shih Tzus, owners must be mindful of their dog’s behavior and stop immediately if they show any signs of exhaustion or distress. Some signs of fatigue include excessive panting, lethargy, or slowing down significantly. If any of these signs are present, owners must stop the walk and take their dog home to rest.

Fetch with Soft Balls or Frisbees

One fun exercise for senior Shih Tzus is playing fetch with soft balls or frisbees. This activity is not only enjoyable for your furry friend but also helps to encourage physical activity and mental stimulation. When choosing a ball or frisbee, it’s important to select soft and lightweight options that won’t cause any harm to your dog’s teeth or joints.

Playing fetch helps to work multiple muscle groups, including their legs, neck, and back. This exercise also helps to promote coordination and balance, and can be helpful in maintaining your dog’s eye and paw coordination. Additionally, playing fetch with your senior Shih Tzu can help stimulate their mind, boost their mood, and improve their overall cognitive function.

It’s important to keep in mind that senior Shih Tzus may not have the same energy levels as younger dogs, and over-exercising can lead to fatigue and strain. Make sure to supervise your pet during playtime to ensure they’re not overexerting themselves, and always provide plenty of water breaks. Be sure to adjust playtime based on your pet’s individual needs and limitations.

Alternative options:
If your senior Shih Tzu is not able to play fetch due to mobility issues, you can still provide them with similar stimulation through other activities like tug-of-war, interactive treat puzzles, or hide-and-seek games. These low-impact activities still help to promote physical activity and mental stimulation, without overexerting your furry friend.

Swimming and Hydrotherapy

Swimming and hydrotherapy are both excellent low-impact exercises for senior Shih Tzus. These activities provide a great cardiovascular workout, relieve joint pain and stiffness, and strengthen muscles without putting excess strain on joints.

Swimming: Shih Tzus were originally bred as lap dogs, so they typically are not natural swimmers. However, with proper supervision and training, many senior Shih Tzus can enjoy a gentle swim. One of the benefits of swimming is the buoyancy of water, which reduces impact on joints. In addition to improving cardiovascular health, swimming can help build muscle tone in the legs and improve joint flexibility. It’s important to remember that not all senior Shih Tzus can swim, and some may not enjoy the water. Before introducing your Shih Tzu to swimming, make sure to get permission from your veterinarian and start slowly.

Hydrotherapy: Hydrotherapy is an exercise designed specifically for dogs, which involves swimming in a heated pool or walking on an underwater treadmill. This low-impact activity increases blood flow, builds endurance and improves joint flexibility. Hydrotherapy can be especially beneficial for senior Shih Tzus with arthritis or joint pain. Because the water provides support and buoyancy, it’s easier for your dog to move without causing further pain or discomfort. Make sure that the hydrotherapy sessions are led by a qualified veterinarian or canine rehabilitation professional who has experience working with senior dogs.

Here is a summary of the benefits of swimming and hydrotherapy for senior Shih Tzus:

  • Benefit: Increases cardiovascular health
  • Benefit: Reduces impact on joints
  • Benefit: Improves muscle tone
  • Benefit: Builds endurance
  • Benefit: Improves joint flexibility
  • Benefit: Relieves arthritis and joint pain

Swimming and hydrotherapy are great exercise options for senior Shih Tzus. Remember to start slow, get approval from your veterinarian, and provide supervision during water-based activities. These exercises can help your furry friend stay healthy, active and happy.

Puzzle Toys and Nose Work

Senior Shih Tzus need exercise, and while they may not be able to run as fast, jump as high or play as hard as they used to, there are still plenty of fun, low-impact activities they can enjoy. Puzzle toys and nose work provide both physical exercise and mental stimulation, making them great options for senior pups.

Puzzle Toys: Puzzle toys are a fun way to keep your senior Shih Tzu’s mind and body active. These toys require your dog to solve a puzzle in order to be rewarded with a treat or toy. There are many different types of puzzle toys, including treat-dispensing balls, maze-like puzzles, and hide-and-seek toys.

Nose Work: Nose work is a type of dog training that focuses on your dog’s natural sense of smell. It involves hiding treats or toys for your dog to snuffle out. This type of activity is not only fun for your senior Shih Tzu, but it also provides great exercise for their nose and brain.

Here are some examples of puzzle toys and nose work activities for your senior Shih Tzu:

Puzzle ToysNose Work Activities
Treat-dispensing ballsScented hide-and-seek
Maze-like puzzlesSnuffle mats
Hide-and-seek toysScented puzzle boxes

When using puzzle toys and nose work activities for your senior Shih Tzu, be sure to supervise them at all times and choose toys and activities that are appropriate for their age and ability level. These types of activities provide great mental stimulation for your dog, but they should also be used in conjunction with low-impact physical exercises to keep your senior pup healthy and happy.

Exercise Dos and Don’ts

When it comes to exercising your senior Shih Tzu, there are certain dos and don’ts that you need to keep in mind. While exercise is essential to keep your furry friend healthy and happy, it’s important to remember that their needs change as they age. In this section, we’ll discuss some of the things you should and shouldn’t do when it comes to exercising your senior Shih Tzu. By following these guidelines, you can ensure that your furry companion gets the physical activity they need without putting their health at risk. So, let’s dive into the dos and don’ts of senior Shih Tzu exercise together.


To ensure that your senior Shih Tzu gets the most out of their exercise, here are some important dos to keep in mind:

  • Do consult with your veterinarian: Before starting any new exercise regimen or activity with your dog, it’s important to consult with your veterinarian first. They can give you personalized recommendations based on your dog’s health history and current condition.
  • Do start slow: Start with low-impact exercises such as short walks or leisurely strolls, gradually increasing the duration and intensity as your dog builds up their endurance. This will help prevent injury or strain on their joints and muscles.
  • Do warm up and cool down: Just like humans, dogs benefit from a warm-up and cool-down period before and after exercising. This can include gentle stretches, slow walking, or even massaging their muscles to prevent stiffness or soreness.
  • Do provide plenty of water: Hydration is essential for any dog, but especially for seniors who may be more susceptible to dehydration. Make sure to bring water and a portable bowl with you on walks or outings.
  • Do consider joint supplements: As dogs age, they may experience joint stiffness or pain. Consider adding joint supplements to their diet to help support healthy joints and mobility.
  • Do make it fun: Lastly, make sure that exercise is a fun and enjoyable experience for your senior Shih Tzu. Incorporate activities that they enjoy, such as playing with their favorite toy or exploring new places. This will not only help them stay physically healthy, but mentally stimulated as well.

By following these dos, you can ensure that your senior Shih Tzu stays healthy and active for years to come.


When it comes to exercising your senior Shih Tzu, there are certain things you should avoid. It’s important to keep in mind that as dogs age, their bodies become less resilient and more prone to injuries, and certain exercises can do more harm than good. Here are some “don’ts” to keep in mind:

Overdo itExcessive exercise can lead to muscle strain, joint problems, and even heart problems in senior dogs. Be sure to take breaks and not push your dog too hard.
Force your dog to exerciseJust like humans, dogs can have days where they simply don’t feel like exercising. Don’t force your senior Shih Tzu to exercise if they seem lethargic or uninterested.
Exercise on hard surfacesHard surfaces like pavement or concrete can put unnecessary stress on your dog’s joints and increase the risk of injury. Stick to soft grass, dirt trails, or indoor surfaces.
Encourage jumping or high-impact activitiesJumping or high-impact activities can put a lot of strain on your dog’s joints and increase the risk of injury. Avoid activities like jumping, climbing stairs, or running on uneven terrain.
Ignore signs of discomfort or painIf your dog seems to be in pain or discomfort during exercise, stop immediately. Ignoring these signs can lead to further injury or long-term damage.
Neglect warm-ups and cool-downsWarm-ups and cool-downs are essential for preventing injury and reducing muscle soreness. Skipping them can increase the risk of injury and prolong recovery.

By keeping these “don’ts” in mind and following the advice for appropriate exercise, you can help your senior Shih Tzu stay healthy, active, and happy. Remember to always monitor your dog’s behavior and adjust the level of exercise according to their needs.


After reading this article, it is clear that senior Shih Tzus require exercise to maintain their health and well-being. As they age, their bodies become more vulnerable to certain health risks, and a sedentary lifestyle can exacerbate these risks.

It is important to understand the benefits of exercise for senior dogs, including improved mobility, weight control, and heart health. However, it is equally important to take into account any special considerations that may be necessary for the individual dog. This includes considering their joint, heart, and dental health, as well as adjusting exercise to their specific needs.

There are a variety of low-impact activities that can be incorporated into a senior Shih Tzu’s exercise routine, such as short walks, leisurely strolls, and puzzle toys. It is also important to properly warm up and cool down before and after exercise to prevent injury.

When it comes to exercise dos and don’ts, it is crucial to listen to your dog’s cues and adjust accordingly. Do encourage and reward positive behavior, and don’t push your dog beyond their physical limits.

In conclusion, regular exercise is important for the health and well-being of senior Shih Tzus. With these special considerations in mind, you can provide your furry friend with the exercise they need to thrive in their golden years.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is considered a senior Shih Tzu?

A Shih Tzu is considered a senior at around the age of 7 years old.

Do senior Shih Tzus need as much exercise as younger dogs?

No, senior Shih Tzus do not need as much exercise as younger dogs. They have slower metabolisms and can tire more quickly.

What are the health risks of a sedentary lifestyle for senior Shih Tzus?

A sedentary lifestyle can lead to weight gain, which puts extra strain on joints, and can lead to other health issues such as heart disease and diabetes.

Can senior Shih Tzus still play fetch?

Yes, senior Shih Tzus can still play fetch, but it’s important to use soft balls or frisbees to avoid any harm to their teeth or joints.

Can swimming be beneficial for senior Shih Tzus?

Yes, swimming can be a great low-impact exercise that is easy on the joints for senior Shih Tzus.

What are puzzle toys and nose work, and how can they benefit senior Shih Tzus?

Puzzle toys and nose work involve mental stimulation and problem-solving, which can help keep senior Shih Tzus’ minds sharp while providing a low-impact exercise option.

What are some tips for adjusting exercise for senior Shih Tzus?

It’s important to take things slow and watch for signs of fatigue, adjust the intensity and duration of exercises to match your dog’s needs, and stick to low-impact activities.

Why is it important to warm-up and cool-down when exercising with senior Shih Tzus?

Warming up and cooling down helps decrease the risk of injury, loosen up joints and muscles, and help senior Shih Tzus gradually get into and out of exercise.

What are some signs that a senior Shih Tzu is over-exercised?

Signs of over-exercise in senior Shih Tzus include excessive panting, limping, reluctance to continue exercise, and overall decreased energy.

Can exercise help with senior Shih Tzus’ dental health?

Yes, exercise can help keep senior Shih Tzus’ teeth healthy by increasing blood flow, which can prevent plaque build-up and gum disease. However, it’s still important to regularly brush their teeth.


Britta Thygesen

Britta Thygesen

A passionate dog owner and a full-time certified dog trainer. Aspires to make Doggolab a go-to place for all the doggo info. Shares personal experience and professional knowledge.

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