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Changes in the musculoskeletal system of the dog in old age: a holistic approach


As dogs age, they, like humans, experience changes in their musculoskeletal system. These age-related changes happen very individually in terms of the pace of change and also the intensity. In any case, they influence everyday life – because here, of course, the musculoskeletal system plays a major role – and can, of course, affect the quality of life of our dogs. In this article, we will look at the most common musculoskeletal changes in dogs as they age and outline several ways we can help them live mobile, pain-free, and active lives as they age. Dog in old age

The changes in the musculoskeletal system in old age Dog in old age

Bones and joints:

One of the primary changes affects the bones and joints. As we age, bone density decreases, which can lead to increased susceptibility to osteoporosis and also fractures. Articular cartilage also wears away over time, which can lead to osteoarthritis and subsequently joint pain and stiffness. This can severely affect their mobility.

Muscle mass and strength: dog in old age

With age, muscle mass and strength decreases in dogs. This can lead to a reduction in overall mobility and the development of muscle weakness. Dogs may have difficulty climbing stairs, taking long walks, or rising from lying down. Everyday movements become more difficult and mobility decreases.

Ligaments and tendons:

Ligaments and tendons lose elasticity and flexibility with age. This increases the risk of injuries such as ligament strains or tears. Healing of such injuries is usually lengthy in older dogs.

Nerve function:

Nerve conduction becomes worse. As a result, the “message” from the brain to the muscles to move is no longer transmitted optimally. Poor nerve function also has a major impact on the muscles. If the “connection” does not work optimally, it becomes weaker and it is also difficult to build. In dog physiotherapeutic treatment, one should therefore always also intensively train the nerve function if one wants to maintain and build up musculature. Here you will learn how to strengthen nerve function.

The back as a weak point: dog in old age

The spine of the dog is a complex construct and exposed to intense stress during the dog’s life. Herniated discs and degenerative changes in the spine are therefore common problems in older dogs. These can lead to pain, neurological problems and difficulty in movement.

Holistic view

Maintaining and improving the mobility and overall health of older dogs always requires a holistic approach. Regular veterinary examinations – the so-called geriatric check – are important to detect age-related changes at an early stage and to draw up suitable treatment plans. It is advisable to pay attention to a balanced diet that meets the specific needs of the older dog and helps maintain a healthy body weight. Dog in old age

Exercise and physiotherapy

Despite age-related changes, regular exercise is important to maintain and strengthen muscles and maintain mobility. With senior-friendly physiotherapeutic dog fitness training, tailored to the needs and abilities of the older dog, you can ensure just that. Physiotherapy treatment in general is also useful for senior dogs to improve mobility and relieve pain.

Supplements and alternative therapies

There are also several complementary measures and alternative therapies that can help older dogs. Dietary supplements can support joint health. Acupuncture, massage and wraps are also options to relieve pain and improve mobility. Following appropriate instructions, massages and wraps, for example, can also be carried out by dog people at home. Dog in old age


Aging of the musculoskeletal system is a natural process as dogs get older. However, through a holistic approach and appropriate measures, we can help them continue to lead an active and mobile life. Veterinary examinations, physiotherapeutic support, a balanced diet, exercise and complementary therapies are important tools to counteract and mitigate age-related changes in the musculoskeletal system. By understanding and addressing the needs of our older dogs, we can help them enjoy their golden years to the fullest.


Would you like to provide your dog with comprehensive support as it gets older? Then take a look at my various online courses for senior dogs. The subject of senior dogs is close to my heart and a major focus of my work.

Do you want to take preventative action? Here you can discover all my online dog fitness courses!

All the love, your Tina

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