For dog owners, cracking the code on just how much exercise your dog actually needs can sometimes feel impossible.
Whether they’re wound up at the end of the day or too tired to do much more than sleep day in and day out, the wrong amount of exercise can have a huge impact on their day-to-day routine and overall well-being.
Worse, over-exercising your dog can lead to real physical consequences. Pushing your dog to the max on a (seemingly safe) summer day can bring them to the brink of heat stroke, while even a leisurely walk on the wrong terrain can lead to serious wear and tear on their paw pads.
Stay ahead of these worst-case scenarios by studying the top signs and symptoms of over-exercise in dogs today.
Symptoms and Signs of Over-Exercise in a Dog
We all want our furry friends to stay healthy, so it’s important to make sure they’re not overexerting themselves during playtime. But how do you know if your dog is getting too much exercise?
The most obvious signs are excessive panting, increased heart rate, and generally slower movements. You should also watch for signs of fatigue or muscle cramping, adjusting the intensity or length of exercise accordingly.
Another symptom to watch out for is limping or hobbling. If your pup is showing any of these signs, then it’s time for a break, so make sure to let them rest in a cool place immediately.
If you’re out and about, make sure to break out the water dish or ask for one if need be. If your pup really overdid it, you might even want to take them to the vet for an assessment and treatment plan.
Note the difference between overheating, overexertion, and exercise-induced injury, too.
A well-hydrated dog enjoying themselves on a day with a comfortable temperature can overuse their muscles, risking injury or excessive fatigue without particular risk of overheating.
By the same token, a dog enjoying what seems like moderate exercise can develop or exacerbate an injury to tendons, fascia, and other vital parts if not closely monitored over the course of their routine.
In other words, injury from over-exercise can be both an acute condition that develops and resolves quickly as well as something that develops cumulatively.
By being aware of symptoms, you can ensure that your pup stays active while avoiding over-exercising. Regular checkups at the vet can also help you make sure that your dog is getting the right amount of exercise without ever overdoing it.
How Much Exercise Should I Give My Dog?
The amount of exercise your pup actually needs depends on a few factors, including their age, breed, and health conditions. Generally, puppies and younger dogs need more intense exercise than older or senior dogs.
Here’s a general guide to how much high-intensity exercise you should be giving your dog:
- Puppies: up to two hours of exercise a day
- Adults (1-4 years old): up to one hour or two 20-minute walks a day
- Seniors (7+ years): 30 minutes of lightly paced walking per day
You can always adjust the intensity of the exercise depending on the weather, your pup’s health condition, and other factors. You can also engage in light play or other activities beyond these time ranges, especially for more-active pups.
In any case, it’s important that you stay consistent with the exercises, letting them get regular physical activity at least three times a week. That will help keep their bodies strong, muscular, and agile without overworking them.
What Are the Best Ways to Exercise My Dog?
Walking your dog is the most obvious way to exercise them, but it’s definitely not the only way! To keep your pup healthy and happy, it’s important to understand how different exercise routines can help keep your dog on their toes.
- Swimming: This is an excellent form of exercise that can help build muscle and increase endurance.
Swimming is a low-impact exercise, meaning there’s far less stress on your pup’s joints when compared to running or walking. Plus, dogs love it, so don’t miss out on this fun opportunity for bonding!
- Fetch: If you’ve got an energetic dog and a large, open space (such as a park), consider playing frisbee or ball with them!
A game of fetch provides intense bursts of physical activity and also encourages critical thinking as they’ll have to actively anticipate where you will throw the disk or ball.
Just be sure to use toys designed for dogs — i.e., one made specifically for canine mouths — so you can avoid any potential injuries.
- Agility courses: This is a terrific way to not just burn off energy but also teach your dog obedience and coordination. Depending on where you live, you can even take classes together.
Plus, many trainers now offer virtual classes that cater to all skill levels. Just be sure your pup isn’t overly tired after each session.
Listen to their cues and watch out for any signs and symptoms of over-exercise in your dog.
What Are Some of the Worst Side Effects of Over Exercise in Dogs?
Even the mildest signs and symptoms of over-exercising your dog can give way to serious health issues. If you see any of these signs occurring, it’s best to take a break or stop exercising altogether and check in with your vet.
- Heavy breathing and excessive panting: If you notice your pup breathing heavily or panting excessively after exercise, this could signal that they are over-exercising themselves and need to take a break.
- Limping & signs of pain: During and after exercise, watch for signs of limping or any level of discomfort that could signal pain. This can indicate an injury from over-exercise or too much intensity during the activity.
- Diarrhea or vomiting: This can be an indicator that something is amiss with your pup’s digestion or electrolyte balance. Be sure to keep an eye out for any changes in their stool quality.
- Collapsing & loss of consciousness: If your pup collapses or loses consciousness after a period of exercise, you should stop exercising immediately and seek medical assistance from your vet. This symptom can indicate heat stroke, which is caused by overexertion in hot conditions and can lead to serious health risks if left unchecked.
How Can I Help My Dog at Home If I Think They’re Over Exercised?
It’s possible to over-exercise your dog, leading to tiredness, sore limbs, joints, and paw pads. So what can you do to help if this is the case?
If you’re just returning home from the dog park or a long excursion and notice that your dog is looking extra tired, then be sure to let them cozy up in their favorite corner and cool off. That said, it’s important to monitor your pup for any signs that their exhaustion is a symptom of something more serious (like if they don’t react to you calling their name or are too tired to eat).
Otherwise, longer-term fatigue might signal that your dog is dealing with some form of chronic pain. If you think your dog has sore limbs or joints, you may want to focus on low-impact activities such as going for shorter walks, swimming, and playing fetch. If your dog still shows signs of discomfort after a few days off, then a vet visit is recommended. They may be able to prescribe specific rehabilitative activities as well as diets and supplements tailored to their conditions.
If your dog is tired, it’s important to eventually get them active again, but be careful not to exercise them too much. Start with leisurely walks and increase the length as they begin to feel better. Also, seek the advice of a vet any time you suspect any injuries, long-term conditions, or chronic issues like joint pain.
Get Exercise, Training, and More at Greenlin Pet Resorts
If you’re still unsure whether your dog is over-exercised (or just wants to learn how to strike the right balance), consult the team at Greenlin Pet Resorts.
With five locations in the Harrisburg area alone, we’ve got plenty of trainers and experts on hand to help you find the right routine for your dog.
There’s also lots to do and enjoy at Greenlin, including swimming pools designed for dogs and agility courses at select locations.
Plus, with ample resources for new puppies and a full “Play and Train” program offered for adult dogs, our team makes it easy to make sure your dog is living their best life.
Otherwise, if you’re just looking for a reliable doggy daycare or short-term pet boarding site where you can count on your pup getting the right amount of exercise — every single day — know that you can always count on us to deliver the right training where it counts.
So what are you waiting for? Find out how their team can help your dog live their best life today. Contact us online or visit one of our six locations!