Just like humans, dogs need exercise to stay healthy. No matter what age or size they are, every breed needs regular exercise. Not only does it help keep their weight in a healthy place, it can also prevent joint issues by keeping them limber. Also, have you noticed that when you’ve taken your dog on a walk, his behavior is beyond better during the rest of the day? The reasons are many, and we’ll dive into not only why, but just how much exercise is the right amount for your dog.
Exercise Benefit #1: Maintaining your Dog’s Healthy Weight
The benefits are many, but the main reason to exercise your dog is to prevent him from gaining weight. Obesity is one of the most common concerns for your dog’s health. Any excess fat can be dangerous for dogs and it puts them at increased risk for types of cancer, diabetes, hypertension and heart disease. Reach out to our team at Animal Clinic of Woodruff to find out what the ideal weight is for your dog’s breed and age.
Exercise Benefit #2: Your Dog’s Mental Health
We mentioned this earlier, but it’s incredible to see the transformation in your dog’s behavior after a walk. Much like humans, a simple walk can have such a positive impact on a dog’s emotional state. Exercise significantly decreases their anxiety, reducing behaviors like chewing, barking, digging and other excessive behaviors. And when your dog is happy, calm and collected…chances are you are too!
One additional benefit to your dog’s mental health is environmental socialization. When you walk your dog, you are helping them feel comfortable with the world around them. They also learn to be comfortable around other dogs that they may come into contact with.
Exercise Benefit #3: Joint Health
Again, just like in humans, when dogs have less pressure and weight on joints, they function better and their joints have less pain. Additionally, exercise helps dogs’ joints stay lubricated and have fewer issues, while the muscles around them get stronger and are able to support the joints more effectively.
How Often Should I Exercise My Dog?
If your dog is a puppy, it’s a good idea to take him on a few short walks during the day. This helps your pup get some wiggles out, and it teaches him to get used to being on a leash.
For older dogs, a good rule of thumb is walking them anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours/day. This sounds like a lot, but certain breeds do need a lot more exercise than others. It’s a good idea to ask our team at Animal Clinic of Woodruff what length of exercise time would be best for your dog’s age and breed.
A few other things to note:
- Make sure that you start slow, and build up. Taking your dog out for too strenuous of an exercise regime too soon can make them overtired, lethargic, or prone to injury. Just like humans, build slowly and make it a routine!
- Make sure you check the weather before you head out. If it’s too hot, your dog can overheat quickly during strenuous exercise. This blog highlights summer heat and ways to keep your dog cool.
- Make it consistent. Choose a time that works for your schedule and aim to stick to it. Before you know it, your dog will be waiting by the door with leash in mouth in anticipation of another healthy outing together!
Walking your dog every day benefits you both! Not only will it help your dog’s mental and physical health, it will also be a bonding experience that you share (plus, you’re getting exercise too!).
We encourage you to reach out to our veterinary team at Animal Clinic of Woodruff with questions about achieving the ideal healthy weight for your dog, and how long to exercise him each day.