We recently adopted an "8-year-old" dog and when we took him to our vet, he said the dog is probably closer to 10 years old and is most likely a border collie/retriever/lab mix.
We were aware of several tumors on the dog's abdomen but the vet also found one on one of the hind legs, as well as arthritis in both front legs. He prescribed some OTC and prescription medications for the arthritis. Interestingly, he also suggested that more activity would keep the dog's joints lubricated and would help with his arthritis.
We've been walking the dog maybe half a mile to one mile a day most weekdays and maybe up to a mile or two on Sundays (a few times around the block throughout the day). Other than that, he just sits around.
I've never personally had a dog before, and a few articles I read mentioned some generic activity levels in terms of minutes, but not distance. Other articles that I read a while back recommended less activity for older dogs with arthritis, but on the other hand the vet suggested trying to raise is activity level to help his joints and to help him shed a little weight. Sometimes he walks fast and other times he walks really slow, so I don't think it makes sense to measure his exercise in minutes. How far should I try to walk my new friend each day, and is there a good way to tell if I'm walking him too much or not enough?
Update: sadly he suddenly started limping a couple weeks ago and now tries not to use his left front leg at all. The vet said our dog already had severe arthritis and allowing him to go for the long walks that he so enjoys probably aggravated his condition. The vet recommended cutting back his diet to help him lose weight, and cutting back his activity and putting him on anti-pain and anti-inflammatory medications, as well as glucosamine chondroitin for his joints.
Interestingly, the vet also said the glucosamine chondroitin in any "joint health" treats and food starts to oxidize as soon as you open the package, and there probably isn't enough of the additive to make a difference in the first place.
Update 2: more sad news. We asked our vet about water therapy shortly after the last update and he said it couldn't hurt. We took him to a different vet who does aquatherapy with an underwater treadmill, but upon closer examination that vet said he isn't able to use his front left leg because of a neurological condition. She said one of his many tumors is almost certainly pinching off the nerve for that leg. Shortly afterward, we noticed that leg and paw looked really big compared to his other front leg. We took him to our normal vet again and he said the tumor was now pinching the blood vessels to that leg, so it's getting bloodflow in but has inadequate bloodflow out therough the veins, causing the bulging.
It's hearbreaking to think that we have such a wonderful dog but there's no amount of exercise that will heal the poor guy. He's able to get around on his 2-1/2 good legs but he tires quickly so now we push him around in a cart when we go for walks. The vet said at this point, all we can do is try to keep him comfortable and happy, and let him eat whatever he wants for the short time that we will have him.