The Role of Exercise in Maintaining a Dog’s Health

A black dog running in a green field

Dogs are cherished pets that add joy and happiness to our existence. As pet guardians, we strive to do what is best for our four-legged friends, with their health and wellness being a top priority. Similar to us humans, our canine buddies also need physical exercise to preserve their good health. The act of exercising promotes physical fitness in dogs and provides various advantages for their mental and emotional well-being.

Regular exercise can help prevent obesity in dogs, which is a growing concern among pet owners worldwide. Obesity can lead to various health problems, such as joint problems, diabetes, heart disease, and even cancer in some cases. Exercise also helps keep muscles toned and strong while improving overall cardiovascular function.

The Importance of Physical Activity for Dogs

Dogs are generally very active animals, requiring regular exercise to keep their bodies in good shape. However, with the increasing number of dog owners who have busy lifestyles and cannot devote enough time to their pets, many dogs nowadays are becoming overweight. This may be due to overfeeding, insufficient exercise, and lack of proper supervision. Although many dog owners realize how important it is to exercise their dogs, they are still unsure how to do so. You can provide regular physical activity for your dog in several ways. Physical activities promote the following:

Healthy Weight

One of the reasons why obese dogs have a shorter lifespan is that they are more prone to health problems. Overweight dogs must lose weight to prevent diabetes, osteoarthritis and high blood pressure. The ideal weight for your dog is the one that allows him to walk comfortably without showing any signs of breathing difficulties. Exercising will help burn off unnecessary calories and reduce the risk of health problems later in your dog’s life.

Improves Mood

When dogs are overweight, they easily get discouraged and depressed. Exercising helps to keep your dog’s mind active and reduces the risk of depression, which can be dangerous in dogs whose moods are low. Additionally, exercise helps to increase the level of serotonin in your dog’s brain, which improves mood. Exercise acts as a natural antidepressant for your dog. Also, it helps you to bond with your dog as you spend time walking and playing together.

Improves Digestive Health

Exercising helps to keep your dog’s digestive system moving and healthy. The more active your dog is, the healthier his digestive system will be! This is because exercise helps move food through the digestive tract and stimulates the muscles of the digestive tract to contract, which is necessary for healthy digestion. Exercising also helps your dog to consume more water and to have a faster metabolism, both of which improve digestion.

Reduces Risks of Diseases

Your dog’s heart, lungs, and muscles all benefit from exercise. By helping to keep these body systems healthy and strong, regular exercise can reduce the risk of diabetes in dogs and other common diseases, such as obesity, arthritis, and heart disease. Regular exercise helps a dog develop strong muscles, which can help prevent a dog from developing joint problems (such as arthritis) and muscle injuries. It also helps a dog’s bones stay strong, reducing the risk of hip dysplasia and other bone conditions.

A small dog sitting, looking relaxed on an open field

Types of Exercise

There are different types of exercise that you can do with your dog. Some are more strenuous than others, and some are better suited to particular weather conditions.

Walking

Walking is a great way to exercise for you and your dog. Additionally, it is the only exercise that is good for you and your dog. It can be done on almost any day, time of the year, and in various locations. Walking can also be done either in urban or rural areas. Just remember to use appropriate devices for your dog if you are walking through a populated area, such as retractable dog leads and collars.

Running

If you’re in for a more strenuous workout, you can combine walking with running. This is a good way to add variety for your dog and yourself. However, running should not be done daily due to the stress it puts on the joints of humans and animals. If your pup is extremely obese, ensure you don’t overdo it when you begin running, as this can cause injury to his joints and bones. Start with short distances and slowly work your way up. Monitor your dog’s breathing while running, especially if he is overweight. If you notice that he is trying too hard, slow down or stop until he catches his breath.

Games

Games such as fetch are a great way to get your dog moving. This is also a great game to teach your dog if he doesn’t know how to play it. Take him outside and throw his favourite ball or toy. Keep throwing the ball while encouraging him to go get it. You can also play tug-of-war with him. Just be careful; some dogs will get carried away and bite you if you let them win too much. Be sure to praise him when he wins so he knows playing hard is okay. Offer him a treat after the game is over.

Agility Training

One of the physical activities that dogs can do well is agility training. This will give your dog a good aerobic workout. He’ll also have fun doing it, and you’ll enjoy the time you spend together. Agility training such as this will also help your dog better understand what is happening around him. As dogs get older, they tend to become more confused and disoriented. Agility training can help keep them mentally active and alert. This kind of training helps with the dog’s body coordination as well.

Agile dog leaping on sand

How Much Exercise Does a Dog Need?

Dogs who don’t get enough exercise will become bored and may develop destructive habits like chewing or scratching. They can also develop weight problems, leading to other medical problems. Your dog needs about 30 minutes of good aerobic exercise daily to stay healthy. However, dogs who are trained for agility will probably need more. This is because they are working out much harder than your average dog. A dog who loves to play fetch with a ball or Frisbee may also need a lot of exercise every day.

Regular exercise is crucial for maintaining a dog’s overall health and well-being. It helps keep them physically fit and improves their mental health by reducing stress and anxiety. As owners, it’s important to ensure that our furry companions get enough exercise daily, whether through walks, runs, or interactive playtime. By incorporating exercise into our dog’s daily routine, we can help prevent obesity, joint problems, and other health issues that may arise from a sedentary lifestyle. So, let’s prioritise keeping our dogs active and healthy for a happy and fulfilling life together.