Is my dog getting enough exercise?

A rattle of the lead or the call of “walkies” is music to the ears of most dogs but a recent survey reveals that a significant number of dog owners in the UK never walk their four-legged friends and the majority of dogs do not get sufficient exercise.

The research, undertaken by Agria, found eight per cent of dog owners do not walk their dogs at all and 60 per cent of those that do were spending less than an hour a day doing so.

As well as being crucial to dogs’ mental health and happiness, getting enough is exercise is essential to ensure their weight is kept at a healthy level.

“Obesity is the enemy of the health of our dogs,” believes Dr Dan O’Neill, from the Royal Veterinary College and co-author of a VetCompass research paper that discovered that one in 14 dogs weighed at the vets is overweight.

In both humans and dogs, the reasons for obesity are the same in most cases: a combination of too much food and too little exercise. Although overweight canines can looks cute and cuddly to some, carrying excess weight increases the risk of developing chronic issues, including diabetes, joint and heart problems, liver disease and a weakened immune system.

Different breeds and types of dogs require varying amounts of exercise and this changes as a dog ages. So, what is the right amount of exercise for your dog?

“Some breeds need more exercise than others but most manage with at least one to two hours of exercise every day,” says Marie Kron, vet and physiotherapist. 

 However, if your dog is young, unwell or older, it is vital to ensure they are not getting too much exercise, as this can cause signigicant issues.

Over-exercising a puppy or young dog can cause long-term issues with the joints, and so it is very important to monitor and restrict not just the length, but also the type of exercise they are doing. This video explains much more about how to safely exercise a dog under one year old.

For older dogs, being sensible and adjusting exercise to their health and ability is key. Read more here.

If your dog is unwell or injured, always seek the advice of your vet before walking them.

Agria’s research found that over 70 per cent of those who walk their dogs realise it is good for their pets and allows them to have fun.

“Happy dogs need variety and enrichment in their everyday life, such as meeting other dogs, playing freely and using their senses,” says Vicki Wentworth, Managing Director of Agria Pet Insurance.

Over 60 per cent of owners admitted they enjoyed walking their dog because they, too, were able to relax body and mind while getting some exercise.

With spring in the air, there’s never been a better time to get outside and spend some quality time with your dog while enjoying all the health and wellbeing benefits this gives us and them.

If you are unsure of what is a healthy weight for your pet and how much exercise they should be having, consult your vet.

The Agria Survey was carried out in February 2022 from interviews with 581 dog owners.

 

With an Agria Pet Insurance policy, you can access the free Pet Health Helpline, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The veterinary-trained team will advise on any concerns or queries that you may have over your pet’s health – much like the NHS 111 service for people. Call free on 03333 32 19 47.