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Keeping Fido Fit

November 15, 2023

Is your canine companion super active? Or is Fido more of a furry, four-legged couch potato? No matter how energetic your furry pal is, it’s important to make sure he’s getting the right type and amount of activity. Read on as a local Des Moines, IA vet offers some advice on keeping your pooch in shape.


Most dogs need at least a daily walk. This is of course necessary for sanitary reasons, but it’s also a great way to keep your pup in shape. Just put safety first: stick to safe areas and use a sturdy leash and a collar or harness that is both comfy for Fido and visible. 


While not all of our four-legged pals are cut out for swimming, some of them take to water like furry, barking ducks. Swimming is great exercise, as it provides a cardio workout that won’t strain your dog’s bones or joints. Of course, this isn’t a good option for dogs that don’t enjoy the water. If Fido isn’t much for swimming, don’t force him!


If we could poll our canine patients, and ask them what their favorite workout is, it’s probably safe to say that many of them would choose games, such as Tag. Take time to play with your furry friend every day. If your dog has more energy than you do, opt for games that have Fido doing all the work while you stay still. Laser pointers and Fetch are great for this. If you have room, you can also get your pup a mechanical ball launcher. Just choose one that’s the right size.


Fido may love playing Fetch and Frisbee, but those aren’t his only options. Consider working on agility training, or perhaps trying some doggy sports. There are plenty of options, from tracking to dock diving to even skateboarding. Ask your vet for tips.


All of our canine companions are different, and their exercise regimens should reflect that. It’s important to choose activities that are suitable for your pooch. Those options will ultimately depend on Fido’s age, size, health, and breed. For instance, brachycephalic dogs, such as pugs, shouldn’t be encouraged to run or otherwise exert themselves, because they are at such high risk of respiratory issues. A Greyhound, however, may enjoy going for a daily jog with his human. Do some breed research, and ask your vet for recommendations.

Our Advice on Keeping Fido Fit in 2024

Why is exercise important for your dog?

Exercise is crucial for your dog’s health, promoting physical fitness and mental well-being. Regular activity helps maintain an ideal weight, reducing the risk of obesity-related diseases. It also supports cardiovascular health, strengthens muscles, and improves joint flexibility. Beyond physical benefits, exercise aids in mental stimulation, preventing boredom and behavioral issues. Tailoring the type and amount of exercise to your dog’s needs, considering factors like age, breed, and health status, ensures they stay healthy and happy. Engage in activities your dog enjoys for the best outcomes.

What if your dog doesn’t enjoy swimming? Are there alternatives?

If your dog isn’t fond of swimming, there are plenty of alternative exercises to keep them fit and engaged. Consider daily walks, which are essential for physical and mental health, or engage in playtime activities like fetch or tug-of-war that stimulate your dog’s mind and body. Agility training or dog sports, such as dock diving or frisbee, can also be exciting ways to exercise. Always tailor activities to your dog’s interest and physical capabilities, ensuring they are both enjoyable and safe. If you’re near Wickenburg, our clinic offers personalized advice on dog exercise plans.

How often should you walk your dog, and for how long?

Most dogs benefit from at least one daily walk, with the duration and frequency tailored to their size, age, and energy level. Small breeds or older dogs might thrive with shorter, 15-20 minute walks, while more energetic or larger breeds usually require longer walks, ranging from 30 minutes to an hour. High-energy dogs may even need multiple walks per day to stay physically and mentally healthy. It’s crucial to adjust based on your dog’s individual needs and health status, ensuring they get the right balance of exercise and rest.

How does a dog’s age impact their exercise requirements?

A dog’s age significantly influences their exercise needs. Puppies have abundant energy and require short, frequent bouts of play and training to stimulate growth and learning. Adult dogs need regular, more vigorous activity tailored to their breed and health to maintain fitness and prevent obesity. Senior dogs, on the other hand, benefit from gentler, less strenuous exercises like leisurely walks to keep them mobile and manage age-related conditions. Always consider your dog’s age, health, and energy level when planning their exercise regimen. For personalized advice, our Wickenburg clinic is here to help.

How do you motivate a dog that’s reluctant to exercise?

To motivate a dog reluctant to exercise, start by finding activities they enjoy, such as interactive games like fetch or tug-of-war. Use positive reinforcement, offering treats and praise as rewards for participation. Keep sessions short and fun to prevent overwhelm and build interest gradually. Consider social exercises, like playdates with other dogs, which can increase their willingness to be active. Also, vary the routines to keep them engaging. Understanding and respecting your dog’s preferences and limits are key to creating a positive and motivating exercise experience.

Do you have questions about caring for your pet? Contact us, your Des Moines, IA pet hospital, today!

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