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Keeping Fido in Shape

March 15, 2024

Does your furry friend love jumping around, running, and playing? Or do you have a fuzzy, barking, couch potato on four legs? No matter which group your canine buddy is in, he needs to stay active to remain healthy and happy. Below, you’ll find some helpful advice from a local Wheat Ridge, CO veterinarian on doggy fitness.

How Can I Encourage My Dog To Be More Active?

Have you heard the expression that you can lead a horse to water but not make him drink? That’s definitely the case in this situation. Fido’s oopinionsand preferences have to be taken into consideration. You’ll have much more luck if you try something that your pet enjoys. Consider Fetch, for example. Many pets seem to pick this up quite easily. Others may simply give you an adorable confused look when you throw a stick for them. You may need to experiment to figure out what your canine companion prefers.

That being said, walking is definitely the universal option. Even a few short walks a day can keep your canine companion fit.

What Are Some Ways To Keep My Pup Active Indoors?

There will be days when going for a long walk with Fido doesn’t seem very appealing for either of you. When the weather is bitterly cold or rainy, your furry friend may start to feel a little restless indoors. 

Here are a few options for those rainy days:

Fetch: Playing Fetch indoors is possible as long as you have sufficient space. Avoid areas with fragile or hazardous items.

Running up and down stairs: Head up the stairs with one of Fido’s beloved toys in hand, and call him. When he brings you the toy, throw it down the stairs. (Please note that this will only be suitable for dogs that enjoy playing Fetch and are physically capable of running up and down stairs.)

Exercise Partner: If you exercise indoors, consider including your furry friend in your workout. Doing sit-ups? Pick up a dog toy and toss it to Fido while you’re in an upright position. You can also do this with lunges and squats. Although they aren’t the best yoga partners, our canine friends definitely make working out more enjoyable.

Treadmills: Do you happen to have a treadmill? Some dogs love running on these! Safety comes first, though. Remember to take off Fido’s collar or harness. Start at the slowest setting and closely monitor him. At the first sign of fatigue, stop the workout. Finally, never leave your dog unattended. (Note: Some cats also use treadmills. If you haven’t already watched the viral video of Fluffy enthusiastically dancing to the iconic Maniac song from the Flashdance soundtrack, we highly recommend checking it out. We probably don’t have to tell you this, but it’s really, really cute.)

How Can I Determine If My Dog Is Getting Sufficient Exercise?

The best way to assess Fido’s health is by evaluating his weight and body condition. Your vet should be the ultimate authority on this.

There are also some behavioral cues. Insufficient physical activity in dogs can lead to undesirable behaviors like digging and chewing. Fido might also be a little more mischievous. If your furry friend has been misbehaving, it’s possible that he’s not getting enough exercise and/or mental stimulation.

How Can I Keep My Older Dog Active And Healthy?

As your furry friend gets older, his activity requirements may shift slightly. Fido may have decreased strength and stamina, and will tire out more quickly. Senior dogs are also more vulnerable to extreme temperatures, which can also play a role.

Walking and playing are generally fine for most older dogs. Just be careful not to overwork Fido. Make sure to closely monitor him and bring him in when he begins to show signs of fatigue. Ask your Wheat Ridge, CO vet for more information. 

How Do I Know What Activities Are Safe for My Pet?

The response to this question will vary, and will also change as your furry companion grows older. That said, every dog is different.

Certain dogs should not be encouraged to engage in intense physical activity. This is especially true for brachycephalic dogs, such as Pugs and Boxers. Those adorable pushed-in faces can have significant health implications for the pups. These dogs often have short air passages, which can make it challenging for them to breathe properly. It can also be harder for them to regulate their body temperature when they become overheated, as panting is not very efficient for them. 

Another factor that could limit Fido’s activity options is the potential for hip dysplasia. This is a common issue that can affect various dog breeds, including German Shepherds and Golden Retrievers, but it can also occur in any dog. If your dog is prone to arthritis or hip dysplasia, your veterinarian and breeder may recommend that you discourage Fido from jumping or standing on his hind legs.

Ask your vet for specific advice on this.

Is Swimming Safe For Dogs?

Many pups love it! This can also be a great, non-impact cardio workout. However, swimming is not recommended for all dogs.

It’s a hard no for brachys. Small and toy breeds should also avoid swimming due to the potential risks they may encounter. As to big dogs, it just varies. Certain dog breeds, such as Labrador Retrievers, have a natural affinity for water and enjoy swimming. Others? Not so much. This may not be the best option for dogs with long, narrow torsos, like Corgis and Dachshunds. 

Of course, if your furry friend isn’t cut out for swimming, he might have a great time wading or playing in a sprinkler or doggy fountain.

What Are Some Activities That I Can Do With My Dog?

The AKC registry includes nearly 200 breeds. Each was initially created to fulfill a particular purpose. (Even toy breeds had a goal: being adorable!) Understanding Fido’s breed can provide valuable insights into his preferences and interests. Many dogs really enjoy things similar to what their breed was originally developed for. For example, many retrievers love the water.

If you and your furry companion are feeling adventurous and ready for a bit of a challenge, here are some dog-friendly activities you can consider:

  • Canine Choreography
  • Skijoring
  • Skatejoring (Skateboarding while your dog pulls you)
  • Dock Diving
  • Agility
  • Lure Coursing
  • Earthdog
  • Flyball
  • Treibball
  • Canicourse (Running With Fido)
  • Hiking

For detailed guidance on what would be suitable for Fido, see your veterinarian.

How Can I Tell If My Dog Is Overtired?

No matter what you and your pup are doing, make sure Fido doesn’t get too tired. Pups will sometimes push themselves too hard to please their humans. Dogs are incredibly loyal creatures who will go to great lengths to please their owners, and can drive themselves to exhaustion.

Here are some red flags:

  • Panting
  • Lagging Behind
  • Drooling
  • Stumbling
  • Warm Back
  • Discolored Gums

If you notice any of these signs, immediately give your dog some water and let him rest. Contact your vet if signs persist.

Do you need any information about your dog’s activity requirements? Feel free to reach out to us, your Wheat Ridge, CO pet hospital, at any time!