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We all know the importance of exercise and good diet to our general well-being but have we made an in-depth thought about the importance of exercise to our pets who happen to be our daily companions? Of course a healthy diet is very important for our pets but that does not in any way undermine the importance of routine exercise to the overall well-being of our furry companions.

Exercise helps your pets increase their muscle tone and also avoid circulatory problems (heart diseases), digestive problems, hip dysplasias (common in puppies) and the ever-increasing menace of pet obesity which consequently results in increased risk of diabetes, cancer and osteoarthritis.

Besides exercise being a physical activity, it also helps improve your pet’s mental activity because while doing exercises as little as minor street/park walks, your pet  gets the chance to smell, hear and see beyond the confinement of its territory. Therefore, it is adviseable to allow your pet observe “sniff sessions” at intervals during such walks.

Being a cure to some pet behavioural problems is not left out as one of the myriad benefits of pet exercise. This is because exercise creates an outlet for stored energy in pets which would rather have been diverted into destructive habits like chewing, scratching, digging, jumping on people or raiding garbage bins.


Having explained the benefits of exercise to your pets, the next question in mind is how to develop a good exercise routine for your pets. The best answer as always is to consult your veterinarian. This is because he/ she is better equipped to develop a program that is suitable for your dog’s age, breed and health condition as well as your own leisure time schedule. However here are some tips that will guide you.

  • Always begin with less-strenuous exercises for your pet before advancing to more rigorous exercises. By doing so, your pet has time to adapt to this new activity.
  • Avoid walks during the hottest and coldest parts of the day as this could predispose your pet to heatstroke and frostbite respectively. Therefore watch out for these signs when walking your pet (your veterinarian could educate you more on these signs) because such may happen even in weather conditions you perceive as “not too extreme”.
  • Always observe break periods at scheduled intervals during such walks in order to give your pet chance to cool off.
  • Brachycephalic (short-nose) breeds of dogs naturally have some difficulties breathing and cooling off, thus they should not be engaged in vigorous exercises.
  • Very young pups, though full of energy, should not be allowed to engage in long runs as this could affect their growing bones and predispose them to skeletal trauma.
  • Obese dogs are prone to joint injuries, thus “sudden start and stop” activities such as chasing a ball are not ideal for them.
  • Pets with underlying heart and lung problem should be properly supervised when engaging in such increased activity. This is where the importance of your veterinarian cannot be overlooked.
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