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Dogs Blog

Walking is Exercise! Benefits of Walking with Your Dog

Walking is Exercise! Benefits of Walking with Your Dog

We don’t need to tell you that exercise is essential and beneficial for the health of humans and dogs alike.When dog walking comes to mind, we often focus on getting outside to let our dogs relieve themselves but we shouldn’t forget how important it is for dogs to take in some fresh air and get moving. These 10 benefits health benefits of walking give you good reason to get out and walk your dog more regularly. 

#10 - Walking helps your dog stay healthy

No need to provide too much explanation here - it’s quite obvious that keeping your pets moving on a regular basis keeps them agile, limber and happy. 

#9 - Walking maintains weight control

Without regular activity, your pet risks becoming overweight. Overweight pets are not healthy! In addition to walking and watching your dog’s diet, it’s important to go beyond a casual pace and exercise your dog regularly. 

#8 - Walking regulates the digestive system

Moving around regularly helps your pet’s digestive system and can also relieve constipation. 

#7 - Helps combat destructive behavior

Dogs can sometimes engage in destructive behavior like chewing, digging or scratching. They do this because, like children, if they don’t have something constructive to do they will resort to other activities to keep themselves occupied and entertained. Regular walks and other forms of exercise help reduce or eliminate these bad habits. 

#6 - Helps with hyperactivity

Pets have lots of energy and they need outlets for it or they become hyperactive. Excitability has the potential to turn into stress, so it’s necessary to calm your pet down with a nice walk to expend energy. Nighttime walks are a great way to help encourage relaxation and reduce restlessness before bed. 

#5 - Curb bad behavior

Pent up energy can turn into what we deem as bad behavior, like jumping up on people and knocking things over. You can help curb this kind of unruliness through regular exercise. 

#4 - Appease attention-seeking

Pets love attention and when they’re not getting enough of it they often resort to barking and whining. These are merely signs your dog is seeking attention and a good walk will provide the one-on-one time they need. 

#3 - Build bonds

Spending time with your pet is about more than just making sure they are getting enough exercise. Your dog is your friend and they require one-on-one time to strengthen your bond and build a strong, trusting relationship. Walking together gives you the opportunity to spend time and strengthen your bond. 

#2 - Build trust

Some animals are naturally timid or have experienced trauma that leaves them feeling fearful and uncertain. It’s very important to build trust with your dog so that they are more confident and feel secure around you. Your dog will need to interact with other animals and people in their lifetime and that may be difficult, but if they feel secure and trusting with their owners it will help them gain comfort to navigate new places and relationships. 

#1 - Walking is healthy for you too

All too often we think of walking the dog as a chore to allow your pet to relieve themselves. We should take care not to think of it this way! Walking is an activity that can be enjoyed by all involved and the health benefits are great for both parties.

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Exercise for Older Dogs

Exercise for Older Dogs

Older dogs who are becoming seniors may start to slow down more, jump less or lack in stamina. This doesn’t always mean your dog has a condition, although it is worthwhile to take care and pay attention to keep their health in check. Your dog could be perfectly healthy and simply experiencing the effects of aging, such as limited mobility. Nonetheless, it’s still important for senior dogs to get exercise, so owners need to learn about their dog’s limits and provide exercise routines that don’t wear them down and that are enjoyable.

Keep An Eye Out For Conditions That Limit Mobility

According to Dr. Heidi Lobprise, DVM, DAVDC, “the most chronic issue seen in dogs that limits their mobility and exercise level is osteoarthritis.” This can naturally occur due to age and is caused by the degeneration of the joints. Causes can also relate to pets being overweight or due to long-term stress to the joints. Some breeds are predisposed to certain conditions. Hip dysplasia is a congenital issue that many German Shepherds experience with age and elbow dysplasia is common in Golden Retrievers. These can start off as mild cases that get worse over time. Rheumatoid arthritis or an infection like Lyme disease can also cause limited mobility if they aren’t diagnosed early and if treatment isn’t provided early on.

“Senior dogs may also be limited in mobility because of injuries like slipping on something, sliding into something or turning too quickly as they chase after a toy,” said Sue Berryhill, BS, RVT, VTS (Dentistry) and Certified Canine Rehabilitation Assistant. “These seemingly minor slips and slides can cause anterior or posterior cruciate tears and be very painful to your dog. They usually occur when a dog’s weight is higher than their ideal body weight,” Berryhill said.

“A decrease in your dog’s exercise tolerance can also be due to decreased heart function, with valve and heart diseases limiting your pet’s mobility,” Dr. Lobprise said. Valve disease is prevalent in smaller breeds like the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel while muscle diseases like cardiomyopathy are prevalent in larger breeds like the Doberman Pinscher. If you notice your dog getting winded more easily or not walking as well as it used to, Dr. Lobprise advocates bringing them to your vet for a heart checkup.

Types of Indoor Exercise for Senior Dogs

Providing an environment full of both physical and mental stimulation will help keep your dog feeling youthful and active. How do you accomplish this? Dr. Lobprise recommends bringing home a few treat toys that will dispense their meals in smaller doses to improve both physical and mental function and promote weight loss in heavier pets. If they’re able to go up and down the stars, have them move around your home and go up and down stairs slowly to keep their joints moving and muscles loose. Should climbing stairs be out of the picture, invest in some ramps to help your dog keep moving around the house without causing them too much pain.

Types of Outdoor Exercise for Senior Dogs

As a senior your dog should still be getting regular walks throughout the week, but keep them short and try not to overdo it if your pet is experiencing any kind of condition. Dr. Lobprise recommends talking with your vet to make sure you know how much your pet is capable of and what a comfortable distance will be for them to walk each day. Swimming is another excellent activity to help exercise the muscles without hurting joints. According to Dr. Loprise, swimming is also an excellent part of a therapy routine for dogs that have some sort of injury.

Dogs with physical limitations may want to keep moving, running after balls and jumping for Frisbees as they used to, but likely don’t have the stamina. “Limit non-stop games of fetch, swimming for long periods and walking in deep grass or sand for too long — these activities, while fun, will be very fatiguing after extended periods of time,” Berryhill said. You’ll also want to recognize your senior dog’s sensitivity to temperatures both hot and cold. Keep them hydrated and in the shade in the heat, especially if they’re overweight or are a brachycephalic breed like Bulldogs or Pugs.

Keeping Senior Dogs Healthy

Weight management and overall care of your senior dog is extremely important. Make sure they’re properly groomed — with trimmed nails — and at an ideal body weight to be able to move around comfortably. According to Dr. Lobprise, providing dogs who have mild or moderate pain with comfortable bedding will also help their symptoms when they are sleeping or wake up from a nap.

Talk to your vet about orthopedic exams, X-rays (if necessary) and any prescription medication or supplements they recommend for your specific pet to help keep them active and healthy. If your dog has had an injury or is experiencing a chronic illness, Berryhill suggests contacting the American Association of Rehabilitation Veterinarians. They can help you design a rehabilitation program for your dog that may include exercise, acupuncture, cryotherapy or chiropractic appointments. Early detection is key to keeping up an exercise program.

“If you can recognize changes [in your dog] early, you can manage it from an early stage to help make it better quickly,” Dr. Lobprise said. “Always talk to your vet about any treatments that they need — if you catch it before it's too severe, you can really help your pets out.”

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How many calories does your dog burn through exercise?

How many calories does your dog burn through exercise?

As humans, we have dedicated a lot of time and research into how many calories we burn through exercise. You can get your hands on charts, articles, apps, and more listing endless types of exercise and the average calories expended on different intensity levels. We even have machines that do this for us, equipped with tools that track and monitor our calorie expenditure. What about animals though? How do we track what our dogs burn during exercise?

Studies on Calorie Expenditure in Dogs

You may be surprised to learn that we know very little about how our pets burn calories. There exists a 70/30 percent rule that is followed by many pet health practitioners and veterinarians, but unfortunately there isn’t any evidence to support it. The rule suggests that pets going through weight loss programs where they are subject to regular exercise regimes lose 70% of their calories due to what is referred to as calorie restriction, and 30% due to loss from physical exertion.

There exists an extensive amount of research on the physiological effects of exercise in horses, but when it comes to our beloved best friends, cats and dogs, there is little to reference. Based on our internet research, here is what exists in terms of studies on calorie expenditure in dogs.

According to one study, a dog walking at a pace of 3.7 -4 miles an hour (~15 minute miles) will burn .8 calories per pound per mile. As a result, this would translate to a 20 pound dog burning a low average of 64 calories per 1 hour walk. It’s also worth noting how unlikely it is that most owners will be able to maintain a 15 minute per mile pace, which brings down the average for calories burned in a one hour walk. There aren’t any studies pertaining to slower walking rates, which makes it hard to state facts on the topic.

Another study tracks results of a 22 pound dog walking at a strong pace on a treadmill while submerged in 10 inches of water would burn about 64 calories in 30 minutes if maintaining a pace of 6.8 miles per hour. Consider this though, this pace is 2 miles an hour less than that of a marathoner! It it highly unlikely that an overweight dog could maintain the suggested pace for up to 30 minutes. And even if they were able to, the results still amount to only 64 calories burned!

What does all this mean?

Despite there being so few studies and reliable fact related to the results of exercise in dogs, it’s still important to make time for physical activity and regular exercise. Even if calorie expenditure is low, and may seem insignificant, exercise is healthy.

Not only is it good for your dog to remain active on a day-to-day basis, it’s also important activity time to build stronger bonds between dogs and their owners. Consider it this way, as long as you are exercising at a pace that makes you sweat and that gets your dog panting, you are promoting a healthier lifestyle for the both of you.

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8 Tips for Exercising with your Dog in Warm Weather

8 Tips for Exercising with your Dog in Warm Weather

It’s official! Summer is finally here and that means hot weather is coming along with it. Longer days and warmer nights make for great opportunities to get out for fresh air, sunlight and exercise, but keep in mind the rise in temperature can also create hazards like overheating and dehydration. It’s important to keep dogs cool in Summer while they’re enjoying fun and exercise! Here are eight veterinarian-approved tips for exercising with your dog in warm weather.

#1 BYO Water

Never ever leave home without water for your dog. You can easily travel with water specifically for your dog with bottles like the PupFlask. Doctor Stephens suggests you pause every 15 minutes to give your pup a drink of cool, fresh water.

#2 Aim for Early Mornings or Late Evenings

You can avoid the heat by working around hours when temperature tend to soar. Limit your activity hours to early morning or late evening hours. Finding areas to walk where there is shade is beneficial for your pup too.

Dr. Brenda Stephens, DVM, clinical associate professor at the College of Veterinary Medicine in the Department of Clinical Sciences at NC State University in Raleigh explains that dog owners should be mindful of humidity and not just high temperatures. The added moisture in the air from humidity makes dogs feel hotter. Dogs keep cool by panting but when they breathe air that is dense with humidity, it doesn’t help them to cool down they way dry air does.

#3 Watch out for Hot Surfaces

Your pet’s paw pads can burn on surfaces that get extremely hot. Ever sat on hot leather that’s been roasting in the sun all day? Yeah, ouch. Asphalt and sand can both heat up very fast when in contact with direct sunlight.

You can protect your pup by testing out questionable surfaces that have been sitting in the sun for prolonged periods. Doctor Stephens recommends using your hand to touch surfaces like sand, concrete or a walkway. Place your have on the surface and if you can’t hold it down for more than 5 seconds then it’s probably not suitable for your dog to walk on. There is always the option of dog boots, which are available for summer and not just for winter seasons. Dogs don’t always love these boots but you can gradually get them used to wearing them by introducing them in small doses before going on long walks.

#4 Take Breaks

Don’t let the heat and humidity stop you from getting outdoors for activities with your dog. Do take breaks while you’re out and exercising today. Keep your dog cool by resting and recuperating in shady areas together. Another option is to get out and be active in short spurts instead of over one long period of time. Try going out together for 10 minutes three times a day, instead of one long 30 minute session.

#5 Is Your Dog’s Breed Sensitive to Heat?

Dogs with shortened noses and faces are part of the brachycephalic family (Pugs, Boston Terriers and bulldogs, to name a few) and they need owners to take extra care when it comes to beating the heat. Because these dogs have shorter noses and airways, they can’t properly pant to cool themselves down. Take extra care if your dog has trouble breathing!

#6 Indoor Exercise is also an option

While it can be nice to spend time outdoors with your dog, don’t compromise their health just to take advantage of the sun. Sometimes it’s just too hot for your dog to be out in the heat for so long. Indoor activities, especially those with air-conditioning, will help your dog to be more active when it’s too humid or warm outside. Sometimes your dog will even refuse to go outside and this may be a sign it’s a good day for playing fetch in the hallway.

There are many options to choose from when it comes to indoor alternatives to overheating outdoors. For smaller dogs, even a supervised swim in the bath can be great for cooling down and moving around. Agility courses, behavioural training or even toys that require dogs to use mental or physical energy are all great ways to keep your pet moving and entertained.

#7 Watch Out for Signs of Overheating

Heatstroke is an issue for dogs as well as humans. Know the signs of heatstroke so you can keep an eye out for your pet while they are enjoying their time outside. When dogs are overexerted, they will often seek somewhere to rest or walk closer to their owners or even simply stop walking. Signs of stress may include yawning or blinking excessively. Dry gums or heavy panting can be signs of dehydration. Changes in your pet’s behaviour, like walking differently or ceasing activity, are indications the heat is too much for your pet. If you want more certainty, you can always attempt to take your dog’s temperature with an ear thermometer. For dogs, a normal temperature ranges between 101 and 102.5.

Vomiting and diarrhea are also signs to watch out for. A circulation problem may lead to a bright red tongue or gums. Keep in mind that obese or overweight dogs overheat more easily and extra care should be taken in monitoring for signs of heatstroke or overheating. If you are concerned about signs you are seeing get your dog to a vet. It’s best to give notice by calling ahead so the staff know how to prepare for your needs.

#8 What to Do If Your Dog is Overheating

Air-conditioning, cool baths or pools of water will help bring your dog’s temperature back down. Bring your dog ice water or frozen treats, if you have them. Keep in mind, they may not want these and you shouldn’t force them to eat them. If they will allow you to put them under a cool shower, this can also help. You can also try wrapping them in a cold towel or spritzing them with water. If your dog’s condition doesn’t return to normal within a short period of time, call your veterinarian.

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