Dog is man’s best friend! Living with a dog brings a lot of enjoyment in our lives – the unquestioned love, the loyalty, the energetic companionship, the child-like exuberance are just some of the many qualities dogs possess in loads. They make us smile, they wait for us by the door, they cuddle and they remind us that life is to be enjoyed at every given opportunity. They also give us a reason to exercise and get out, even during these cold days!
Dog parenting is a full time, long-term commitment. Regular exercise is one of the many commitments dog parents undertake as they welcome a puppy into their home. The duration and intensity of a routine workout for a pet depends on various factors such as their age, breed, health status and fitness levels. While sighthounds (like greyhounds), retriever breeds and herding breeds need a fair amount of activity on a daily basis; the brachycephalics (flat-nosed breeds) better handle short spurts of activity to prevent overexertion.
Just like for humans, puppies should be gradually initiated before undertaking strenuous workouts such as long runs or sporting activities. Short runs or playing with a Frisbee or ball at the park are generally a good exercise option as the pet can take breaks, or drink some water in between if the body so demands. The prime fitness levels in a well trained, active dog should be expected in young adults although there will be individual variation. Older dogs can develop arthritis or some muscle atrophy with age, and need less intense workouts – a slow leisurely leash-walk is ideal for pets getting up in years. Certain medical conditions may require pets to have specific activity schedules and programs. Over-exercising can in fact lead to flareups in chronic medical conditions.
While running, hiking and playing ball are very good workouts; swimming is by far the most complete workout and is the least demanding on the joints. Of course, the nature and frequency of workouts would also be dictated by the pet parent’s age, physical status, work schedule etc. Doggy daycare or using the services of a dog walking service are additional ways to get dogs appropriate levels of activity to keep them healthy. But if man’s best friend had his way, he would much rather exercise with you, leading to quality together time.
By – Dr. Bajwa,
Veterinarian at Hastings Veterinary Hospital, Burnaby.