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Keeping Fido Fit: Tips From A Carol Stream, IL Veterinarian

March 15, 2024

Is your canine buddy an active, bouncing ball of fur? Or do you have a four-legged couch potato on your hands? No matter what camp your pup falls into, he will need regular activity to stay happy and healthy. Of course, doggy workouts vary greatly. A local Carol Stream, IL veterinarian offers some advice on this below.

How Do I Know What Is Safe For My Dog?

The answer to this one will change as your canine friend ages. Any health issues Fido develops can also come into play. Your Carol Stream, IL veterinarian is a great resource on this.

That said, there are a few rules of thumb to follow.

Some pooches should never be encouraged to exercise vigorously. This primarily applies to brachycephalic dogs, such as pugs and Boxers. Those pushed-in faces may be adorable, but they come at a high cost for the pups. These dogs tend to have very short air passages, which makes it very easy for them to lose their breath. Their physiology also makes it harder for them to cool off if they do get hot, as panting isn’t very effective for them. 

If you have a brachy, don’t urge Fido to run or play vigorously. Swimming is also out of the question, though your furry pal may enjoy wading or splashing in a sprinkler or doggy fountain.

Swimming is also unsafe for small and toy breeds, as it’s so easy for them to get into trouble. With large dogs, it depends. Some pooches, like Labrador Retrievers, absolutely love the water and take to it like furry, barking ducks. Others just don’t do well. This also isn’t a great choice for pups with long, narrow torsos, such as Corgis and Dachshunds. (Speaking of Corgis and Dachshunds, they also aren’t well-suited to jumping or high-impact activities.)

Another thing that may curb Fido’s activity options would be the risk of hip dysplasia. This is very prevalent in certain breeds, such as German Shepherds and Golden Retrievers, but any pup can be afflicted. If your pooch has or is at risk of developing arthritis or hip dysplasia, your vet and breeder may advise against encouraging him to jump or stand on his back legs.

How Do I Make My Dog More Active?

You’ve heard the saying that you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink? That pretty much applies here. Fido’s opinion and preferences all come into play. You’ll have much more luck if you try something your dog enjoys. Take Fetch, for instance. Many pooches pick this up naturally. Others will just give you an adorable confused look if you throw a stick for them.

You may need to try different things to see what your canine pal likes best.

That said, walking is of course the standard here. Even taking your canine companion for a few short walks a day can go a long way toward keeping him fit.

How Do I Keep My Dog Active Indoors?

Sooner or later, there will be days when taking Fido out for more than a quick potty break just isn’t very appealing. Whether it’s cold, rainy, or both, your pooch may get a bit antsy indoors. You can still keep your canine friend active indoors.

Here are a few options:

Workout Buddy: If you work out indoors, you can try incorporating Fido into your routine. Doing sit ups? Pick up a dog toy. Toss it when you’re sitting up. You can also do this with lunges, and squats. Our canine pals aren’t particularly good yoga buddies, but they do make exercise more fun.

Fetch: You can play Fetch indoors, if you have enough room. Just avoid spots with breakable and/or dangerous objects.

Stair Runs: Go to the top of the stairs, holding Fido’s favorite toy. Call him to you. When he brings you the toy, toss it down the stairs. (Note: this will only work for dogs that fetch, and are in good enough shape to run up and down stairs a few times.)

Treadmills: Do you have a treadmill? If so, you can see if your four-legged friend likes it. Safety first, though. Be sure to remove Fido’s collar or harness. Start him out on the very slowest setting, and keep a close eye on him. Stop as soon as your pet seems tired. Finally, never leave your dog unattended. (Note: Some kitties also use treadmills. If you haven’t seen the viral video about Fluffy running to Maniac from the Flashdance soundtrack, look it up. You won’t be disappointed.)

How Do I Know If My Dog Is Getting Enough Activity?

Fido’s weight and body condition are two good gauges on this. If you aren’t sure if your canine friend is overweight, underweight, or just right, talk to your vet about it.

There are also some behavioral clues. Dogs that don’t get enough activity are more prone to unwanted behaviors, such as digging and chewing. They may also be a bit more unruly. If your canine pal has been acting up, he may not be getting enough exercise or stimulation.

What Are The Least Active Dogs?

Proper activity is important for all of our canine pals. However, some need a bit of coaxing to stay active, especially as they grow older. Some of the pups that tend to get a bit lazy include Saint Bernards, Chow Chows, Basset Hounds, and Mastiffs, to name a few.

Which Dogs Need The Most Exercise?

Your dog’s age, breed, and health all factor in here. Some pups are definitely more active than others. If you’re planning to adopt a dog, or have just gotten a puppy, doing some breed research may prove quite informative. 

Here are a few high-energy dogs:

  • Border Collie
  • Boxer
  • German Shepherd
  • Golden Retriever
  • Siberian Husky

How Do I Keep A Senior Dog Active?

As Fido grows older, his activity needs will change a bit. He won’t have the strength or stamina he once did, and he’ll tire out more easily. Senior dogs are also more susceptible to extreme hot and cold, which can also factor in.

For most older dogs, walking and playing is fine. You’ll want to take care not to overexert Fido. Keep a close eye on him, and take him in when he starts to get tired.

What Are Some Activities I Can Try With My Dog?

There are over 200 breeds in the AKC roster. Each of them was originally developed to serve a specific purpose. (Even toy breeds had a job: being cute!) Fido’s breed may tell you quite a bit about what he may be most inclined to enjoy.

That said, if you and your furry pal are adventurous and up for a bit of a challenge, here are a few doggy activities you can try:

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

Ask your vet for specific advice on what would be appropriate for Fido. 

How Do I Know If My Dog Is Overtired?

No matter what type of activity you and your canine pal are up to, it’s important to take care not to overtire Fido. Man’s Best Friend is Exceedingly loyal, and he will push himself to exhaustion to please his humans. Here are some warning signs to watch for:

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

If you spot any of these, immediately give your pooch water and let him rest. Then, head back home.

Scheduling An Appointment With Your Carol Stream, IL Veterinarian

Do you have questions about your dog’s activity needs? Contact us, your local Carol Stream, IL pet hospital, anytime!