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Are you over-exercising your dog?

Taking your dog out for a walk is one of life’s great pleasures. Not only does it provide good exercise to keep your dog fit and healthy but it also does wonders for their mental health too. A recent study by the PDSA revealed that around 1.3 million dogs aren’t walked daily. Dogs that don’t get enough exercise are prone to physical ailments like obesity, but are also at risk of developing behavioural problems. Many common problems like barking and destructiveness begin due to dogs being bored and unhappy. Getting them out in the fresh air for a good run around will help to keep their body and mind active and well.

But getting too much exercise can be just as damaging to your dog as not getting enough exercise. All dogs are different and will therefore require different amounts and types of exercise. This will depend on their breed, size and age, and will probably vary throughout their own lifetime. For example, puppies and older dogs will be a lot less active so it’s important for you to correctly gauge what suits your dog for their current stage in life.

Bigger, more active dogs like Great Danes and Springer Spaniels will need around two hours of exercise a day, whereas smaller dogs like Yorkshire Terriers and Chihuahuas will only need around thirty minutes. If you’re unsure how much exercise your pet should be getting, have a chat with your veterinarian and they’ll be able to help you devise an exercise plan that works for you both.

Many dogs are often so excited to be out and about exploring that they will ignore signs of fatigue until it’s too late. Owners can also be guilty of this too, particularly if their dog is left alone a lot during the week and they try and make up for lost time at the weekends and end up overexerting their dogs. This can also happen if an owner notices that their dog is becoming overweight and so suddenly increases the amount of exercise their dog is getting to try and help them shift the weight.

If your dog is showing signs of stiffness or sore muscles, then you may have overdone it. You also need to be aware of signs of joint injury, particularly in the toes, but you should also look for signs of sprain or strain in the elbows and wrists of a dog’s front legs. In the summer months, you need to make sure that your dog isn’t overheating. This can be a particularly prevalent issue in short-nosed breeds such as Pugs, Boxers and Bulldogs as they can’t cool down as quickly as other breeds can.

If you’re in any sort of doubt as to how much exercise your dog requires, please consult your veterinarian who will be able to work out a plan that suits both yours and your dog’s needs.