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How much exercise can my pooch handle?
Most pet owners understand that dogs of any size, breed and age need daily exercise, but some might not know just how much their dogs need. The answer to this question will vary depending on the age, breed and health of the individual dog, but there are certain guidelines that all pet parents should follow.
Get a checkup
If you've noticed that your pooch has packed on some winter weight and now you want to start it on a healthier course, you should bring it to the vet first to make sure it is strong enough to work out. The vet will likely perform a complete physical examination on the dog to check for signs of arthritis or other medical problems. This will include the vet listening to the dog's heart rate as well as manipulating its limbs to check for signs of joint inflammation. If the vet finds the dog in good health, you should be able to start taking it for walks right away – but make sure to start slow as the longer bouts of exercise are new for you and the dog and could lead to a pulled muscle or something worse if you push it. The vet may also suggest starting the pooch on pet drugs with glucosamine for dogs like Dasuquin to keep its joint strong as it ages and works out more. Supplements like this help to maintain healthy joints by increasing the production of molecules that bind and hold water in the cartilage.
Once the dogs gets the OK from the vet, there are certain precautions to take before hitting the pavement. You'll first want to figure out how far you think your pooch can walk at its current weight. Ask the vet how long of a walk he or she thinks the dog can do and then gradually increase the activity each week. You'll also need to take into consideration how much water the dog will need, especially as the temperatures across the nation are starting to rise. You may want to give the dog plenty of H2O before the stroll and even bring along water and a traveling bowl to offer it a drink midway if it is panting heavily. Make sure to let the dog cool down in a shady spot once you return from the walk.