Are dog treadmills for older dogs safe?
Where can I find the best options for senior pups?
How do I even go about getting my older dog on a treadmill???
If these questions sound familiar, don’t worry, we’ll be answering all of them (and more) today!
Then, we’ll take a look at my favorite models for our senior pals.
You may also like: Top 3 Best Dog Treadmills for Large Breeds
Dog Treadmills for Older Dogs: A Comprehensive Guide
I’m going to be honest with you, there isn’t a whole lot of research out there on the safety and effectiveness of dog treadmills in general, let alone for older dogs.
Even a quick search for “dog treadmills for older dogs” pulls up results like “Top 8 treadmills reviewed!” or “Best treadmills for all dogs!”
So not what I was looking for. I’m also going to assume that is so not what YOU are looking for!
With that assumption in mind, I’m doing my best to create a fairly comprehensive guide to senior dogs and treadmills, starting with the most important question!
Related: Best dog treadmills for the whole pack
Are dog treadmills safe for older dogs?
Yes…and no. Maybe. Too vague? Let me explain.
Dog treadmills in general are considered safe and viable options for dogs who can’t walk long distances outdoors (or humans who can’t walk them).
While they’re fairly new to pet owners at home, vets have used them quite a bit in office to help with rehabilitation and recovery.
However, there are some caveats. Home use of dog treadmills is typically safe IF:
- Your dog is capable of walking short distances.
- He doesn’t have any health conditions that would exclude exercise.
- You’re using an electric treadmill
- You supervise your dog the entire time he’s on the treadmill.
- You keep his workout sessions short and sweet.
- The treadmill isn’t his sole source of exercise.
- Let’s break those down a little bit into more detail, shall we?
1- Your dog must be capable of walking short distances
If your older dog can’t even manage a few steps across the room without assistance, please don’t toss him on a treadmill.
Okay, so I know you’re not going to toss him on it anyway, but you know what I mean.
If his achy bones make it hard for him to walk regularly, talk to your vet before you even think about getting a treadmill.
2- He’s a generally healthy dog, or you get your vet’s okay
If your senior dog is healthy overall, you shouldn’t have any issues with putting him on a treadmill.
Two of my big dogs lived to be almost 15, and both of them were perfectly healthy right up until the end.
Both could have used a treadmill without any repercussions. However, if your dog has health issues- especially those that affect his heart or lungs- get your vet’s okay first.
3- You stick with an electric treadmills
During a Q&A with Seattle Times, veterinarian Lori Lutskas explained that treadmills are safe IF they’re not manually operated ones.
While she didn’t really explain why, I have a feeling that it has to do with the fact that human manual treadmills are calibrated for two-legged creatures and not our 4-legged canines.
Another logical assumption- it’s easier to stop an electronic treadmill on a dime. If your dog is in danger, just hit the emergency shut-off button.
4- He’s never, ever, ever left alone on the treadmill
I came across one article that said something along the lines of “dog treadmills are great, just put your pup on and go fold laundry or do the dishes!”
NO. No, no, no. Just no. Please (please time a thousand) DO NOT leave your dog unattended on a treadmill. Ever.
Just don’t do it. SO many things can go wrong, up to and including fatal strangulation accidents.
Besides, you’ll want to watch your older dog for signs of too much exertion and you can’t do that if you’re in another room.
If he’s panting hard or clearing struggling, it’s time to take him off the treadmill.
5- Keep it short and sweet
There’s a rule of thumb that says dogs should exercise 5 minutes a day for every month of age. Please remember, that ONLY applies to puppies!
Think about it. If your dog is 10 years old, he’s 120 months. Does it make sense to exercise him for (let me grab the calculator) 600 minutes (or 10 hours) a day?
Nah, that would be crazy! So, how much exercise do older adult dogs need? It depends, according to the AKC. Most adult dogs need between 30 minutes to 2 hours (for highly active breeds).
If your senior dog is still spry, start with the 30 and go from there. However, keep his treadmill sessions to about half of that time. Which brings us to…
6- Don’t use a treadmill as his only source of exercise
The treadmill shouldn’t be your dog’s only source of physical activity. Even old dogs need to get outdoors and take walks from time to time.
If he (or you) just can’t get outdoors, play a light game of fetch in your living room or check out these other tips on exercising your dog indoors for the remainder of his active time.
Now, let’s go over a few of my favorite treadmills for older dogs.
The list is even shorter than the usual dog treadmills guides because I only really like a few for our senior pals.
FYI, the rest of this post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through these links, we earn a small commission at no extra charge to you.
What are the best dog treadmills for older dogs?
With so few consumer dog treadmills on the market, our buying guides are usually pretty short to begin with.
When it comes to older dogs, I prefer options that are a bit heavier on the safety features. Here are my top choices.
1. dogPACER Folding Treadmill Review
The dogPACER LF 3.1 Folding Fitness Dog Treadmill is always my top choice, whether we’re talking old or young, big or small dogs.
Basic Specs & Dimensions
- Size when folded: 42.28”L x 22”W x 8.5”H
- Size when open: 76.77”L x 27.16”W x 46.18”H.
- Running area size: 71” X 16.5”
- Weight of treadmill itself: 84.4 lbs.
- Dog weight limit: 179 lbs.
- At under 100 lbs, it’s among the lightest dog treadmills, which is good for older people with older dogs!
- Super simple to set up, at least as far as treadmills are concerned.
- Folds down when you need to put it away
- The frame comes with a lifetime warranty
- Starts slow, at 0.5MPH, making it great for older dogs who are new to treadmills.
- Goes up to 7.5 MPH for our spry canine pals who can handle faster speeds.
- Multiple incline positions let you start out flat or give your dog a “hilly” feel.
- Comes already programmed with a few different workouts, or you can create your own.
- Very quiet motor, so it won’t spook your dog.
- It’s rather large when in use, so not great for apartments.
- Requires its own circuit due to the power load.
- Not large enough for giant breeds
- Warranty only covers the frame, which is the least likely thing to break, really.
- A pain to return if necessary
The dogPACER is my top choice across all dog treadmills for a reason. Along with the pros and features above, I also like the safety features.
For example, the treadmill won’t even run without the Red Magnet Emergency Key in place. So, if something goes wrong, just pull it and it’ll stop.
All that, and it’s fairly budget-friendly compared to other dog treadmills.
2. DogTread Small Dog Treadmill
While the dogPACER is great for pretty much all dogs, sometimes you don’t really need THAT much treadmill.
For those with smaller seniors, the DogTread is a great choice, especially if you also live in a small house!
Specs & Size
- Overall Size: 44 x 20 x 21 inches
- Running area size: 29” x 14”
- Weight of treadmill itself: 47lbs
- Dog weight limit: 30 lbs
- It’s perfect for dogs ranging from toy breeds through the larger end of small breeds.
- Very quiet motor
- Speeds start at a slow 0.3 and go up to 5.0 MPH
- Like the dogPACER, it has multiple incline options, so your dog can work on all those muscle groups.
- A little treat holder helps motivate nervous dogs.
- A handy remote lets you change the speed and what not without bending down.
- Nice low sides make it easy for dogs to see around them.
- A pain to set up and get going the first time you use it.
- Sides fold down, but that’s about it as far as storage options go.
- Not really great for long dogs (like the dachshund)
- Only comes with a 1-year warranty
First things first, the warranty- it stinks. One year isn’t long enough for something like this!
However, if you get it on Amazon, you can purchase a protection plan for a fair price.
That said, if you have a small senior dog, this is your best bet after the dogPACER.
- LCD Console – Program Speed, Distance and Time for each workout. Red Safety Start and Stop is easy to identify. Included remote control provides additional training versatility.
- Recessed Treat Holder – Provides a convenient way to dispense and hold treats during the initial stages of training. NOT FOR WATER, TREATS ONLY.
- Sturdy, Attractive Dog-Friendly Design – The DogTread is equipped with a whisper-quiet motor and is free of any holes, meshes or seams where a dog might get small paws caught.
- Natural Running Platform & Manual Incline Options – Low training fence provides a more comfortable and positive experience while the Flip-bar Incline increases training intensity as needed to simulate outdoor terrain.
- Space-saving Portable Design – Securely rests on its nose for convenient storage. Transportation wheels makes it easy move the DogTread to any location.
3. GOPET Treadmill
My last pick for the best dog treadmills for older dogs is the GoPet Small to Medium dog model.
While they do make other sizes, this one works well for just about all breeds except giants.
Specs & Size
- Overall Size: 70″L x 25″W x 11″H
- Running area size: 52 X 16″
- Weight of treadmill itself: 100lbs
- Dog weight limit: 132 lbs
- Although it won’t accommodate, say, a Great Dane, it’s fine for pretty much every other breed.
- Speeds range from 0.6 – 7.5 MPH
- Includes an eyelet to attach your dog’s favorite toy for motivation
- Emergency safety stop helps prevent accidents
- You can control the speed with a remote or right on the display
- Wheels on the bottom make it easy to move
- Safety rails versus high sides, so your dog is safe without his view being obstructed
- Only has a 1-year warranty
- Super expensive shipping, whereas most other models ship free
- Expensive overall compared to the others
Along with low slat-like sides that make it easier to see your dog when it’s in use (and him to see you), I like that it sits pretty flat on the ground.
However, I don’t love that it’s so expensive AND costs a bundle to ship, nor do I like the stinky 1-year warranty.
- For Dogs Up to 132 Pounds. Tread Running Area 52 X16
- Air cylinder Auto-Fold. Exercise Multiple Dogs
- Low running platform. Remote or manual control
- Speed and timer control. Emergency safety stop. Dog chain holder
- Speed from0.6 - 7.5 MPH. Silent driving system for very quiet operation.
Out of the three, I’d go with the dogPACER as my top choice for dog treadmills for older dogs. It’s a fairly robust machine for a decent price.
If you’re on a budget and have a small dog, though, the second option is great, too.