Warmer weather is here and with it comes more outdoor activity for both you and your dog! Exercise has many health benefits, including burning calories, reducing appetite, improving muscle tone, increasing metabolism, and improving temperature regulation. It can be a valuable contributor to weight loss and maintenance. Exercise also stimulates your dog’s mind, which prevents boredom and destructive behaviors. Various kinds of exercise can help satisfy your dog’s instinctive urges to dig, herd, chew, retrieve, and chase. Good exercise options for most dogs include: walking, running, jogging, playing fetch or playing with other dogs, and swimming (great for low-impact exercise needs).
You can help your dog get plenty of exercise by scheduling regular playtimes and walks. When setting out, work up slowly to a brisk walk or jog once or twice a day. If you don’t have time to walk your dog, consider hiring a dog walker. Some owners adopt another pet so their dog has a playmate that encourages an increase in activity. You could also try scheduling regular visits with the pet of a friend or neighbor. Doggy daycare centers can also help your dog gets plenty of exercise once or twice a week.
Individual exercise needs vary based on breed, age, and health. If your dog is young, or belongs to a very active type of breed, then they require a large amount of exercise. However, strenuous exercise can cause problems in some dogs, especially those that are not fit or are very young or old. Be aware that older animals may have arthritis and would benefit more from both low-impact types of exercise, as well as having more frequent, smaller periods of exercise rather than one long stretch of activity. Athletic owners should consider this to avoid overexerting their dogs, especially in hot weather. When starting a new exercise routine, go slowly for the first week to give your dog a chance to adapt, then gently ramp up the distance or speed. On extremely hot or cold days, take shorter trips. And as always, consult your veterinarian before beginning an exercise program for your dog.
If you’re looking for some low calorie treats for your dog, consider the following as healthy, safe choices: slices of apples, pears, or bananas, carrots, green beans, melon, plain popcorn without oil or butter, and even low-calorie dog treats sold in some stores. If your dog has food allergies, consult your veterinarian about which treats are safe and appropriate. And of course do not feed your dog (or cat) grapes or raisins as they can cause kidney toxicity.
If you have any questions, please call us at Copper Hill Animal Clinic to set up an exam! We can be reached at 661-296-8848.
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