The Importance of Canine Fitness.
While pet parents care about their dogs a great deal and do their best to ensure they're getting everything they need, many dogs still don't get enough exercise to maintain good fitness. Canine fitness is extremely important. Just as humans need exercise for a number of reasons, dogs do as well. There are also many benefits to regular exercise and good overall fitness. Let's dig into some of these things and go over the importance of dog fitness and what you can do to help your dog stay in good shape.
What Is Canine Fitness?
Canine fitness isn't just about physical fitness. Just like humans, dogs have physical, psychological, emotional, and social needs that must all be met. Your dog's fitness encompasses everything from the food he eats and the exercise he gets to his socialization and mental health. Dogs need a holistic approach just like you do so let's go into more depth on the different areas of canine fitness.
Your dog's physical fitness includes his diet, exercise, and physical health. All of these are important to your dog's overall wellbeing, so they're worth going into more detail:
Diet– Make sure your dog is on a healthy, well-balanced diet. Many ingredients in some dog food brands aren't ideal, talk to your vet about your dog's specific health needs and ask for their recommendation for the best dog food for them.
Exercise– Just like you, your dog needs exercise to maintain a healthy weight, keep medical conditions from developing, and maintain healthy joints.
Physical Health– Your dog's physical health is crucial to a long, happy, and healthy life. Make sure you're going to the vet for well visits in addition to when something goes wrong. Checkups can be vital in finding, preventing, and treating any possible illnesses. They're also important for maintenance treatments like shots and flea and tick prevention.
Psychological, Emotional, and Social Fitness
This includes all the facets important to the health of your dog's mind. Mental and psychological health can include things like happiness, fears or trauma, and relationships with other animals and you, their human family. These things are also important to your pup's overall wellbeing. To maintain these aspects of your fitness, make sure he isn't alone too much, gets enough sleep and exercise, you spend enough time playing and relaxing together, and that he has some time to spend with other dogs when possible. Also, take note of any fears or abnormal reactions and discuss them with your vet.
Benefits of Canine Fitness
Maintaining good overall fitness is important to your dog in many ways. Each area of canine fitness has corresponding benefits along with overlapping benefits because your dog's health, like your own, is interconnected. Some of these benefits include:
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Lower risk of future health issues
- Good digestion
- Improved mood
- Better behavior
- More confidence
How Much Exercise Is Ideal?
Your dog's exercise needs will be affected by their age, health, and temperament but in general, one to two hours daily is ideal. Puppies need more exercise than older dogs on average, but some puppies don't get as hyper while some older dogs like a lot of exercise. Their health will also impact their desire and ability to exercise. Due to the individual nature of their needs, talk to your vet about what's appropriate for your dog.
Kinds of Exercise
There are several ways to get your dog the exercise they need. They don't all have to be boring for you either. There are a wide variety of choices that can help you both get what you want and need out of them. There are even ways to let your dog get exercise inside. These include:
- Obstacle courses
- Running stairs
- Dog treadmills
- And many more!
Exceptions & Risks
Keep in mind that all dogs are different. If a dog exhibits fear during any activity, it may be best not to push him and first consult your vet before trying that exercise again. There are also health concerns to take into account. If your dog has joint problems, for example, many activities may be painful for him to try.
Swimming is a good low impact exercise that is great for the joints, but despite popular belief, not all dogs enjoy swimming so it's important to treat your dog as an individual. Some dogs have been bred to have smaller limbs, such as corgis. This can be a big factor in their ability to do a specific kind of exercise. To be safe, check with your vet before beginning any exercise regimen to make sure there aren't factors that you're unaware of.
Make sure you take cues from your dog about the speed and distance for any exercise. They may need to rest sooner than you do. Also, have water available to ensure they aren't dehydrated. Many dog breeds don't do well in very hot or cold temperatures for extended periods. This can be due to fur thickness, size, or muzzle length. Check with your vet about your dog's specific needs.
Make sure your dog isn't getting an overabundance of exercise. While it's important for your dog to get enough exercise, it's dangerous if they have too much. A lot of physical activity very quickly without an adjustment period to ease them into the routine in stages can cause health problems and even be fatal. Muscle fatigue is a real concern as well just as it is for you. Their paws can also get worn down so keep an eye on them. As long as you work with your vet to ensure your dog's health and safety, you should both be on your way to health and happiness soon!