We've been home a lot these days. And the best way to kill the time and get some exercise is taking a long walk around the neighborhood with our beloved dog in tow. We know that getting those “10,000 daily steps” can be super healthy for humans, but does all the exercise serve Patty Melt the same way? Or, is it possible to over-walk your dog? We talked to an expert to get the low-down.
Is it possible to walk your dog too much?
The short answer? “Yes,” says Dr. Daniel Edge, expert vet for Zoetis Petcare. This is dog-dependent and also affected by things like the weather. For instance, on hot summer days, take your longer walks during cooler parts of the day—early morning and when the sun goes down. For mid-day bathroom breaks, stick to quick ten-minute-or-under walks if it’s too hot.
What’s the “right” amount of walks for your dog?
According to Dr. Edge, this really depends on your dog, because it could be completely different from what’s right for your neighbor’s dog. Remember: Not all dogs are the same—a 1-year-old Labrador will have different exercise needs than an 8-year old Pekingese mix. But if you're looking for a baseline, “In general, healthy dogs need at minimum two 30-minute walks for exercise and relieving themselves,” Dr. Edge notes. These will vary, however, based on breed and individual factors. The absolute best way to gauge how much walking your dog can take is to do a little research on your dog’s breed. Look up the breed’s energy level and cross-reference this with their age, health and personality. Then, ask your vet for a wellness consultation because they’ll be able to give you the most accurate advice.
What are signs you’re taking your dog on too many walks?
Look out, instructs Dr. Edge, for your dog’s ability to sustain the walk. Ask yourself: Can they handle it? How do they tolerate it? Are they happy? Are they keeping the pace? Are they lethargic? There are other factors outside your dog's ability too. Is it a hot summer day? If so, walking a dog for a long time on hot cement can cause their pads to blister, which is incredibly painful.
How can you tell if your dog is just acting stubborn or has actually had enough?
“That's a tough question to answer without seeing the dog,” says Dr. Edge, but in general, you know your dog. Is your dog stopping because something takes their attention away from the walk? Do they look normal otherwise? “If your dog is panting uncontrollably; if their gums and tongue are looking purplish—that’s a medical issue,” advises Dr. Edge. In those instances, talk to your vet right away.
What are signs you’re not taking your dog on enough walks?
The easiest sign to spot is increase in weight—in your dog and you! If you're not walking as much, you might be affected too. Another sign, says Dr. Edge, is if an older, healthy dog has difficulty standing up or sitting down or is struggling to go up and down stairs. These are both indicators of weight gain and joint pain that could come from lack of exercise.
What are ways to keep your dog engaged if extra walks aren’t an option?
An indoor option is a food puzzle that mentally stimulates food-driven animals—just make sure to keep the treats healthy and to a minimum if weight gain is an issue, reminds Dr. Edge. For an outdoor activity, if you have a fenced-in yard, play some fetch! You can even do it while you’re on a work call.
Need more tips of taking care of your pets? Check out this A-Z Petcare Guide.