Published 04/27/2021

The Importance of Exercise for Your Dog

the importance of exercise for your dog
As a dog owner, you’ve probably wondered if your dog is getting enough exercise. While it’s safe to say that all dogs need some form of physical activity to stay healthy and happy, how much can depend on breed, age, size, and more. Here, we will explore the benefits of exercise and some ways to tell if they’re getting enough.

Benefits of Physical Activity in Dogs

Exercise plays a critical role in a dog’s health and is important for their behavioral, physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing.

Heartworm Prevention

Dogs that go without adequate exercise can develop a variety of behavioral issues, including anxiety, hyperactivity, and excessive barking, digging, and chewing. 

Physical

Exercise helps promote healthy aging by reducing the likelihood of conditions such as arthritis, hip dysplasia, and obesity, just to name a few. According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, 56% of dogs in the United States are overweight or obese.  

Mental and Emotional

Regular exercise provides much more than a physical workout; it offers valuable mental stimulation which helps to keep your dog’s brain active and provides emotional benefits like strengthening their bond with you.

How Much Exercise Do Dogs Need?

Exercise needs vary from dog to dog and are dependent on many different factors, so it’s important to talk with your veterinarian about the best exercise routine for yours.

From hiking to swimming, there are countless ways to spend quality time with your pet while giving them the physical activity they need. This is important because while some people think that letting their dog out alone in a fenced-in yard counts as “exercise,” this isn’t the case. Dogs need stimulation; so playing with another dog or person in a yard definitely does the trick, but being alone outside isn’t adequate for most dogs. 

On the other hand, some pet owners worry that they’re doing too much. If your dog is panting heavily, slowing down, or stopping to lie down, it’s probably time to take a break or call it a day. Other signs are even more concerning; limping, for example, can indicate injury to bones or soft tissue while stumbling, falling, or listlessness can indicate a heatstroke. All of these are serious concerns, and you should contact your vet immediately.  

Signs Your Dog Needs More Exercise

Your dog may not be able to speak, but they’ll certainly let you know if they need more exercise. Weight gain, hyperactivity, and destructive behavior are all signs that it’s time to get moving more.

Hyperactivity

Does your dog run wildly around the house or jump on people? Some pet owners think that hyperactivity is “just normal” for some dogs; however, it’s often a sign of stress. The solution? More physical and mental stimulation. Even a half-hour walk with some new sights and smells can go a long way.

Weight Gain

Like humans, dogs gain weight when they’re consuming more calories than they’re burning. Watching their diet in comparison to the exercise they get can help determine where to make changes.

Destructive Behavior

Destructive behavior like chewing can be a sign of boredom due to a lack of exercise or mental stimulation. Finding time each day to exercise their body and mind will help to alleviate pent-up energy.

If your dog is exhibiting any of these signs, it is important to consult with your vet to rule out any underlying medical conditions. 

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