Today kicks off the start of National Walk Your Dog Week!
Living with a dog has many perks, but one of the best is being able to exercise with your dog and exercise is as important for your dog as it is for you!
Why Exercise Matters
Exercise is not only good for maintaining optimal physical health but also great for mental well-being. As with people, obesity is becoming a major health problem in today's dogs. Between 20 and 40 percent of all dogs seen by veterinarians in the United States are considered overweight, and many are clinically obese. Obesity prevents dogs from enjoying many physical activities; it also decreases speed and stamina and makes it more difficult for dogs to deal with heat. Obesity is also associated with certain medical problems, including arthritic changes in overly burdened joints, increased risk of torn ligaments, back problems, cardiac problems, difficulty breathing, increased surgical risks, skin problems, whelping problems and a possible increase in risk for some cancers.
If the physical threats associated with obesity aren't enough, consider the behavioral aspects of a lack of exercise. Dogs are active by nature. Their ancestors, wolves, covered many miles every day in search of food. Many domestic dogs were selectively bred to be even more active, with a focus on hunting or herding or patrolling. Preventing them from their genetically programmed activity level can build frustration, which may exhibit itself in the form of hyperactivity, barking, digging, tail chasing, and home destruction. Boredom has also been associated with behavioral problems in some dogs.
Before starting any new exercise program with your dog, have a chat with your veterinarian. You'll want to make sure your dog is healthy enough to safely increase his physical activity. This is especially true for mature dogs, but even young dogs should get a go-ahead from a vet.
So what kind of exercise is advisable? It depends on your dog's age, breed and individual needs. Puppies need short spurts of exercise. They should never be pushed to exercise beyond their limits; for example, don't take your puppy on extended outings until he's finished growing, but do let him run, walk and play at his own speed. With an adult, work up to longer walks and hikes gradually.
This week is a great time to get out and enjoy a nice walk with your dog and enjoy the beautiful fall weather!!
Happy National Walk Your Dog Week!!!