4 minute read

Drs Boechat and Henthorne chat about exercise. They advise walking your dog a little every day instead of a lot all at once.

Picture riding your bike on a sunny day with your dog trotting beside you. His ears are flapping in the wind and you’re delighted by this moment of bonding.

Exercise for dogs is great. Essential, even. Yet, it can become dangerous if your dog is too young, has arthritis, or hasn’t been trained for long workouts.

How much is too much exercise for your pet? Doctors Barbara Boechat and Michelle Henthorne at Firehouse Belterra offer advice so you can make the best choice for your pet.

How do I know if my dog is getting too much exercise?

You’re overdoing the workout if you see the following cues while walking your dog:

  • They refuse to walk. If your dog is sitting and won’t continue, it might be good to snag a ride home.
  • Lots of panting.
  • They’re looking for shade.

What will you see the day after a workout that’s too long for your pet?

A sore dog’s gait will look stiffer than their normal walking style. They might also have a hard time standing up.

“Dogs aren’t going to limit themselves,” says Dr Henthorne. “You need to limit them.” Talk to your vet about how much is too much exercise for your specific pet.

Especially puppies. “They’ll keep going and going and going,” Dr Henthorne adds.

What’s an appropriate walking distance for puppies?

1-2 miles for most puppies. There are some breeds that can go farther, but they need to be trained slowly over time to get to longer walks or runs.

“Their joints are not properly formed yet,” says Dr Boechat. “The chances of trauma are way higher than an adult dog.”

Do you need to exercise your dogs every day?

“It depends on the dog — their age, their lifestyle, and breed,” says Dr Boechat.

Dogs with arthritis need to move, but a short walk to the mailbox may be just fine. Your veterinarian will guide you on the appropriate amount for an arthritic dog. On the flip side, a German Shephard puppy needs daily exercise (and quite a bit of it!).

As a general rule, short walks should be ideal for everyone.

We’ll talk to you about your pet’s breed and needs at wellness visits so you know the best lifestyle choices for your specific animal.

What breeds generally need more exercise?

Walking dogs include German Shepherds, huskies, Belgian Malinois, Jack Russells, Labs, and Pointers, to name a few. Many mixed breeds are walking dogs that can go longer distances.

We can guide you on how much exercise your pet needs. Bring your questions to your next appointment. We love giving you personalized advice.

What are some general guidelines for dogs who don’t need lots of exercise?

Dog breeds with a smoosh-faced or short-nosed (brachycephalic) breed need less exercise.
This includes pugs, Shih Tzus, Boston Terriers, Pekingese, boxers, bull dogs, French bulldogs, English Toy Spaniels, and more. They don’t do well in heat, so get them walking before 8am and after 8pm (or 10pm on the hottest days).

Dogs regulate their body temperature through their nose. So squished-faced breeds can overheat quickly. Especially in our Texas summer.

What do I need to know when I exercise my pets in the summer?

Always bring water for your pets. Avoid overcrowded places where your pet cannot find shade to rest.

“They need to be able to take a minute to rest in the shade,” says Dr Boechat. “My dachshund goes from shade tree to shade tree” says Dr Henthorne. “He’s always looking for the next shady spot.”

Hot pavement and gravel can hurt your pet’s paws. If it hurts your hand, it’ll hurt your pet’s paw pads as well. Work your dog up to gravel—short walks will give them callouses so they can go farther and farther without issue.

More tips for safe summer walking can be found here.

Can your dog ride next to you while you ride your bike?

Sure—if your pet is a working dog or a breed that needs tons of exercise. AND if you’ve worked your dog up to long distance walks/runs.

Of course, keep in mind summer heat. It’s best to exercise before 8am or after 8pm (or 10pm on the hottest summer days).

My dog has arthritis. Can I walk him?

Yes! Just in small amounts. Your pet might only need to walk to the mailbox. Ask your vet about your specific pet.

If I can see my pet is sore from too much exercise, what can I do to help?

Call us and we might prescribe anti-inflammatory medications specifically made for pets. We can also talk about vitamins like fish oil that make recovery easier.

If your pet isn’t eating or drinking, you need to come and see us.

You know your pet best. Please call us or schedule an appointment online if you suspect something is wrong with your pet.

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