Dog Activities & Fun - The Role of Fun and Exercise in Dog Health

How much activity does my dog need for optimal health?

For optimal health, it depends on the life stage that your dog is in, but we do want them to have regular exercise to keep your pet healthy and keep them at an ideal weight. Daily exercising might vary depending on your pet’s age.

Dr. Nichola Gaither
Animal Hospital of Statesville

How does the ideal activity level for a dog change based on age or breed?

Age plays a significant role. Our puppies are growing and still maturing, so we don't want to overdo that with those growth plates. Middle-aged or regular adult dogs would be at the prime of their lives, so a lot of exercise is good then. And then, with senior pets, of course, we want to make sure that they don't have health problems that might limit some of their activities.

And then you asked about the breed. So our different breeds of dogs might be if you had a dog that doesn't breathe as well, you don't want to take them out on a scorching hot, sunny day in the summertime and run around the block a couple of times because they might have trouble. If it's a short-legged dog, you might want to take that into account, that they might be able to keep up with you running. But things like that might help you vary the amount of exercise that you do.

What health problems can arise in dogs that don't get enough activity?

If your dog's not getting enough activity, then they could be overweight. They might gain a lot of weight. Other activities that might be limiting would be that they wouldn't be as agile, and their joints could suffer without proper activity.

How does a dog's activity level affect their behavior?

That's a good question. If a dog is active, they will not be as bored, just like you and me. If we're active and we get our exercise, then we aren't as bored. Dogs could have destructive behavior that they may want to chew up more things. They might have some behavioral issues where they get anxious, so that exercise can be good for that general health.

What are some fun activities I can do with my dog?

That's a great question. Some of those might include playing with them outside, being outside, especially on a pretty day like today, where it's kind of cooler temperatures. You could throw the Frisbee. You could kick a ball around. Sometimes they like to chase the ball. You could go for a walk around the neighborhood, and that's a lot of fun for them.

What if my dog is lethargic and won't exercise?

That could be a problem. You would want to encourage your dog to exercise, but if they're lethargic and they don't want to, then you might have to think of some incentives. You may want to approach that gradually, in short increments, and encourage them with lots of praise. Slowly work them up to where they might think that it's fun and pick something they like. Maybe they don't like running, but they want a favorite toy, and so you could take that toy outside and then get them to play. Or even inside exercise is also good to do.

Are there any health issues that might affect his ability to exercise?

Yes. So if the dog is arthritic, if they have issues with their joints, that would limit their ability to do certain types of exercises. We have dogs that sustain knee injuries, and so Frisbee throwing would not be something we would want them to run after because that stopping and twisting and turning is not good for the knees. If the dog has other health concerns, perhaps the kidneys, you might limit the amount of exercise they could do.

If you still have other questions and you'd like to reach out to us, you can call us directly at (704) 872-3625, you can email us, or you can reach out on Facebook. But please do reach out, and we'll get back to you as soon as we can.