Dog games are fun, but more than that they also contribute to the overall health of your dog in a very important way. Every dog owner wants their beloved pet to remain as healthy as they can for as long as possible, and one way to ensure that is to be diligent about their activity level. Dogs that are active and get plenty of daily exercise are at a reduced risk of obesity, muscle and joint issues, and more. They’re also happier and have fewer behavioral issues. At Eureka Animal Clinic, we work extremely hard to bring you the accurate information you need, so we’ve taken the most frequently asked questions about dog activity levels and answered them as thoroughly and accurately as possible.
If you’re looking for a highly trained veterinarian in Miami, FL, we’d love to see your dog to make sure they’re active enough, so please call us at (305) 842-3228.
How much activity does a dog need for optimal health?
Dogs require quite a bit of activity to maintain optimal health, including keeping weight off, burning calories, and stimulating their minds. It’s often much more than some owners are willing to provide, especially after a long day of work. While the recommended activity level depends on their stage of life, all dogs require regular exercise to maintain health. At Eureka Animal Clinic, we discuss activity levels during annual wellness exams to ensure they get the appropriate amount of exercise.
How does the ideal activity level for a dog change based on age and breed?
Dogs’ activity levels vary depending on breed, with smaller breeds having more energy than large breed dogs, and therefore a higher activity level to expend all that energy. While smaller breeds tend to be “lap dogs,” they have plenty of moments of zooming around the room or backyard with a burst of energy. If you have a short-legged dog, they will expend more energy trying to keep up, so that needs to be considered when it comes to the duration of any activity.
Age also plays a significant role in a dog’s activity level. As your small “zooming” dog ages, you’ll notice they have less energy with only the occasional outburst of energy. Eventually, they’ll begin to lay more on the couch or in their bed and do far less zooming around. Activity level for puppies is something owners need to be mindful of, as they are growing and maturing, and you don't want to overdo activity and impact their bone development. Middle-aged adult dogs are in the prime of their lives, so a lot of exercise is ideal for them. With senior pets, you want to ensure they don't have health problems that might require limiting some of their activities.
What health problems can arise if a dog does not get enough activity?
If your dog is not active enough, there are some health consequences that you may start to notice.
Health implications of a dog not getting enough activity include:
- Obesity due to a lack of burning calories
- Muscle issues due to lack of use
- Joint problems due to lack of use
- Loss of agility
How does a dog's activity level affect their behavior?
A dog’s activity level has an impact on their behavior as well as their physical health. A dog that is not receiving enough exercise will instead expend that energy on negative behaviors such as chewing and being destructive. An active dog will be less likely to exhibit such behavioral issues. In addition, dogs with anxiety tend to have behavioral issues, which is helped significantly with increased activity.
What are some fun activities I can do with my dog?
There are countless activities a dog owner can do with their dog to keep them active and happy while also strengthening their bond at the same time.
Fun dog games and activities include:
- Throwing a Frisbee
- Playing fetch
- Tug of war with a rope or toy
- Kicking a ball for them to chase
- Walking around the neighborhood
- Teaching your dog to do tricks
- Taking them on a run with you if their health allows
The AVMA provides detailed information on the benefits of simply walking with your dog every day and helpful tips to follow.
What if my dog is lethargic and won't exercise?
A dog that is lazy or lethargic will ultimately end up with some health issues, such as obesity. This type of dog requires some incentive to be active, such as glowing praise when they participate in even a short amount of activity. Gradually try to increase the length of time they’re active and keep encouraging them. Try to figure out what interests them. For example, a dog might not enjoy running but will play with a favorite toy outside for quite a while.
Are there any health issues that might affect my dog’s ability to exercise?
There are a few health issues that might affect your dog’s ability and willingness to exercise. An arthritic dog will have joint problems and is therefore limited in their ability to do certain types of exercise. Dogs with hip dysplasia or knee issues will also be limited, so you’ll want to avoid an activity such as Frisbee since that requires a lot of quick stopping and twisting. Kidney issues might also limit a dog’s activity level, which is common as they age.
If you have further questions about dog activity, reach out to your veterinarian. If you live in or near Miami, FL, we’d love to see your dog for a wellness check to make sure they’re fit for optimal activity, so please don’t hesitate to call us at (305) 842-3228.