News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

Are you over-exercising your dog?

Exercise provides your furry friend with many physical and mental benefits. It keeps joints limber and promotes good range of motion, maintains muscle mass, which can help prevent injury, and helps to maintain cardiovascular health and decreases obesity.

Daily exercise can strengthen your bond and reinforce your dog’s need for routine.

The amount of exercise and activity a dog needs will depend upon their age, breed, overall health and the outside temperature.

Summer is here, along with its scorching temps. You’ll probably want to bring your dog outdoors for some fresh air, sunlight, and exercise, but warmer temperatures can create certain hazards for your pet, including overheating and dehydration.

There are people who love to stay fit and get their daily workouts regardless of summer weather. Many folks like to include their dogs in their fitness routine. But it’s not the best idea to take your pooch out for a run or cycle in the heat of a summer day.

Your companion can overheat or suffer from exhaustion, illness, or injury. If you still want to take your dog along on your bike ride, please get a bike trailer or a pet basket.

Dogs don’t have sweat glands like humans to help cool them off. Their cooling system is in their nose, tongue, and paw pads

The dangers of heat stroke and heat exhaustion are real and the potential for your dog to suffer from these are high, especially if they are not conditioned to the hot weather. Heat stroke can take several hours before it becomes deadly. Some extreme cases can cause death if the dog doesn’t receive medical care immediately. If your dog’s tongue is nearly dragging along the sidewalk then maybe you should reconsider exercising on a hot summer day.

Probably the best tip on exercising your dog in hot weather is to go for a walk before it feels like a furnace. Or, wait until evening when the sun is dipping.

Another way to get your dog his exercise and playtime when it’s hot is by swimming or paddling in the water. You can also fill a kiddie pool with cool fresh water if you’re staying home. Some dogs enjoy boating or paddle boarding but not every dog likes to swim. You can turn the sprinkler on and toss a ball or frisbee back and forth through the water. Of course, this only works if your dog likes to jump through sprinklers. Or, for those dogs with a fascination for the hose, now is the time to use that to your advantage.

Not enough exercise can leave you with a dog full of excessive pent-up energy. However, over-exercising your dog, even in spring- and autumn-like temperatures can lead to injuries and overstressing their system.

There is real risk for joint injury, back injury, respiratory distress, or cardiovascular problems.

Walking is much less likely to trigger distress in a dog with heart disease compared with running, jumping, or hard play.

It is important to be aware of over-exercised dog symptoms. How much exercise a dog needs is not a one-size-fits-all situation. Every breed is different, and every individual dog has varying exercise needs.

The exercise needs and tolerance are different for a puppy than they are for an adult dog. Their bodies, muscles, tendons and bones are growing and developing. As their growth plates on their big bones have not healed and sealed up, repetitive and high-impact activity can do serious harm.

Monitor your puppy on the walk and end the walk if he shows signs of overtiring such as lagging behind, lying down, or panting.

If your dog shows signs of excessive panting during or after exertion, extreme thirst and lagging behind when they are normally in front raring to go means you may be over-exercising him.

Muscular pain and stiffness are other signs your dog may be getting too much exercise.

Many pet parents work all week and try to fit in a week’s worth of exercise into two days off. This isn’t good for your pooch because they will push through warning muscle and joint pain and fatigue for play time with their favorite companion.

If an older dog has osteoarthritis, overexertion can cause immediate pain and actually accelerate the ongoing degeneration of joint tissues.

You know your dog best, and if you remain observant, you’ll realize when he’s getting too hot or fatigued. If he starts to slow down, or pants to excess, it’s probably time to head home.


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