Can you over exercise a dog
Yes, just as you can not give a dog sufficient exercise, you can exercise them too much for their level of fitness. A dog’s fitness level needs to be built up gradually. Fitness also goes in cycles. A dog can not maintain peak fitness all the time.
If you do notice signs of your dog not having as much energy or getting niggly little injuries it is a good idea to reduce the quantity of activity and build it back to the level it was.
It is important to be aware of over exercised dog symptoms. How much exercise a dog needs is not a one size fits all situation. Every breed is different and every individual dog has varying exercise needs. For a general idea of how much exercise your dog needs read “dog exercise calculator“.
Not enough exercise can result in a dog with excessive pent up energy. Over-exercising your dog can lead to injuries and over stressing their system.
Providing time to recovery from exercise is just as important as exercise. If your dog has had a couple of hard sessions in a week you should have a day with a light workout. This can be as simple as a casual walk.
Consequences of not providing sufficient activity for your dog.
It is important to provide your dog with adequate exercise to keep them healthy, to prevent behavior problems caused by boredom and pent-up energy and make them feel happy. This not only includes physical exercise but should include mental enrichment. Mental stimulation can use as much energy as physical activity. To learn more about providing mental stimulation read “Mental enrichment and mind stimulation” and also “Top 7 Puzzle Toys for dogs”
It is also just as important to not over exercise a dog which can result in injury, heat stroke or worse. Ultimately, it is a balancing act.
How much is too much exercise for a dog
The amount of exercise and activity a dog needs will depend upon their age, breed, and overall health. Ultimately it comes down to your judgment. Monitor your dog’s energy levels. If they have excessive pent up energy they probably require more exercise.
If they seem flat and are showing some of the exhausted dog symptoms below, it may be necessary to reduce their exercise to allow their bodies to recover.
If you find yourself questioning are you walking or exercising your dog too much, you probably are.
Puppy over exercise symptoms and signs
The exercise needs and tolerance is different for a puppy than it is for an adult dog. Their bodies, muscles, tendons, and bones are growing and developing. As their growth plates on their big bones have not healed and sealed up, repetitive and high impact activity can do serious harm.
Monitor your puppy on the walk and end the walk if they show signs of overtiring such as lagging behind, lying down or panting.
For a full guide for how to exercise a puppy see here.
Exhausted dog symptoms
Signs that your dog is being over-exercised can include;
Dog is exhausted after exercise and seems to take a long time to recover.
Excessive panting during or after the exertion
Lagging behind when they are normally in front raring to go
Any lameness, limping or a reluctance to exercise or continuing to exercise
Sore muscles and stiffness
Confusion and lack of focus.
Appearing to be overtired after the exercise, or sleeping or laying down more than normal
If your dog is showing any over exercising symptoms you should reduce the amount of exercise they are receiving for a few days or more. It may also be a good idea to massage your dog and do range of motion exercises to loosen stiff muscles and joints. Read “Dog massage step by step” to learn more. In addition, you can use a heating pad to soothe sore muscles.
Signs of overheating
As dogs can’t cool themselves in the same way humans do by sweating it is possible to overheat even if the weather isn’t that hot. For more on the signs of overheating or heat stroke read “Exercising your dog in hot weather”
The dangers of heat stroke and heat exhaustion are very real and the potential for your dog to suffer from this are very high. Heat stroke can take several hours before it becomes deadly. Some extreme cases can cause death if the dog doesn’t receive medical care immediately.
Signs that your dog may be overheated include
excessive whining and fidgeting,
panting with the tongue right out of their mouth and being scooped at the end,
weariness, confusion, sluggish movement
red gums and tongue.
Other signs to look out for are foaming at the mouth, thickening of the saliva and breathing difficulties.
Dehydration can set in fast. During dehydration, the dog’s mouth and gums will become dry and the skin will lose it elasticity. If you grab the skin on the back of the neck and stretch it will return slowly back into its natural position.
This is a sign that they are highly dehydrated and may go into shock. They will need IV fluids to be injected by your vet. Any signs of heat exhaustion or dehydration are a cue to stop the exercise and allow them to cool off.
Get into the shade or indoors if possible and give them small amounts of cool water. Don’t let them drink large amounts at once. Use a wet cloth to cool their paws, groin, and armpits. Cooling a dog down too quickly can cause them to go in to shock.
If they exhibit any vomiting, weakness, or seizures get them to the vet as soon as possible.
Heat exhaustion symptoms
Heat Exhaustion occurs with exercise, particularly on hot, humid days. The symptoms are similar to those of heat stroke, but may not have the elevation in body temperature, as is the case with heat stroke.Normal body temperature for a dog 37 to 39 degrees Celcius
Heat exhaustion symptoms include:
Heavy panting, tongue fully extended and scooped like a spoon at the end
Gasping or breathing difficulties
Dazed expression, looking anxious, vacant, or staring into space
Drooling or frothing at the mouth
Unco-ordinated when walking and appear dizzy
Muscle weakness and fatigue
Your dog lies down and cannot get up or collapses
Vomiting or retching
Muscle cramping and tremors or even seizures
Anxiety or agitation
Rapid heartbeat and elevated breathing
Depending on the seriousness of the situation, these are the steps you should take if they feel their dog is suffering from heat exhaustion:
Move your dog out of the sun and into the shade or an air-conditioned indoor area or car.
Give the dog frequent small amounts of water to drink; DO NOT allow the dog to drink copious amounts.
Rinse the dog off with cool water or use damp cloth especially the ears, groin, armpits, & belly.
Place your dog in front of a fan while still damp or use a newspaper or towel to fan the dog
Place ice bags wrapped in cloth or a cooling collar around your dog’s neck and against the groin area for rapid blood cooling.
Take the dog to the nearest emergency veterinary clinic.
Do not cover your dog, even with a cold towel. A towel will prevent the heat
from escaping. Keep wiping the ears, groin, armpits, & belly with a wet cold washcloth.
Heat stroke symptoms include:
all symptoms of heat exhaustion, plus:
A very high body temperature. Body temperatures over 41 degrees Celcius can cause internal organ damage
A rapid and erratic heartbeat
Grasping or struggling for breath
Excessive, loud or irregular panting or they suddenly stop panting.
Frothing or foaming at the mouth
Dark red gums
Vocalizing such as barking or whining
Loss of consciousness
Shaking or seizures
Other signs of heat stroke to be aware of can include
Dry mouth and nose
Lack of urine production
Weakness and muscle tremors
Dryness and redness of the inside of the tongue, mouth, lips, and gums. May also change color to dull grayish-pink or purplish-blue
Dilated pupils and glazed over eyes
Vomiting and even diarrhea
HEAT STROKE IS A SERIOUS EMERGENCY REQUIRING IMMEDIATE VETERINARY CARE.
How to cool a dog down quickly
Dog Heatstroke Aftercare
Dogs with heat exhaustion or even moderate heat stroke usually recover without complications or health problems. Severe heat stroke can cause organ damage that may need ongoing care by a vet and may require a special diet prescribed by your vet. Dogs who suffer from heatstroke once increase their risk of getting it again. Great care must be taken especially if the weather is hot.
It is important to ensure your dog gets the amount of exercise they require to release pent-up energy to avoid behavior issues, manage weight, for overall health and to keep them happy. It is equally as important to not over-exercise them and for you to be aware of over exercised dog symptoms.
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