The importance of exercising your Dog

The benefits of exercise can hardly be overstated. We know that as human beings, we need regular exercise, especially given our hectic yet sedentary modern lifestyles. So we have gyms, running tracks and exercise classes to help us keep up our activity levels. But your dog depends on you to get his exercise everyday. Not only do dogs benefit greatly from regular exercise, but lack of sufficient activity can cause numerous problems for them. So if your dog is under-active, here are few reasons why you should start changing that right away:

Physical benefits of exercise
Dogs who exercise regularly are not only healthier than those who don’t; they also live longer and better. Their hearts and lungs are stronger, their muscles more powerful and better co-ordinated; they sleep better and have more energy. Exercise improves the circulation of oxygen and nutrients in dogs and helps them utilise more calories even when they are at rest, controlling their weight and keeping obesity (and its many associated diseases) away. Exercise also slows down the onset of arthritis in dogs, and keeps them more active in their later years.

Psychological benefits of exercise
Just like us, dogs feel great after a good workout. Exercise causes the brain to release endorphins, which create a sense of euphoria and well-being. But we can get by without exercise, at least as far as our brains are concerned. For dogs, exercise is crucial to maintain healthy behaviour and keep destructive impulses in check. For dogs with behavioural problems, the first treatment is usually greater exercise. Remember: a tired dog is a good dog.

Problems caused by lack of exercise
The benefits of exercise are immense, but the consequences of insufficient exercise are enough to make any caring owner take immediate steps to remedy the situation. Puppies and growing dogs, especially, need regular and age-appropriate exercise. Lack of sufficient exercise can lead to obesity, which is one of the leading causes of canine deaths. Under-exercised and overweight dogs can suffer from numerous ailments such as poor muscle tone, bone and joint disorders and heart problems. They are also at greater risk for cancer, diabetes, joint disorders and respiratory problems.

Lack of exercise combined with the fact that most dogs live in confined areas and often spend large amounts of time alone can lead to psychological and behavioural problems such as sores caused by excessive licking or chewing of the skin, boredom barking and restlessness.

Your dog’s everyday physical and emotional health is a direct indicator of its exercise levels. So – is your dog getting enough exercise?

If you’re at all concerned about this, the best course of action is always to consult your vet. They’ll be able to examine your dog and tell you for certain if there’s a problem and the best course of action.

Image supplied by thelastminute, used under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

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