SIGMT 2021 Vol 14 Iss 3

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90 | SIGNATURE MONTANA EXERCISE WHY IT'S IMPORTANT PET HEALTH 101 ARTICLE PROVIDED BY BEST FRIENDS ANIMAL HOSPITAL To have a happy and healthy dog, you need to stimulate your dog mentally and physically. Most pet parents understand that if their dog doesn't get enough exercise, they cannot expect them to be well-mannered members of the family when they come home in the evening. A lack of exercise and mental stimulation oen results in behavioral problems. WHY IS MENTAL AND PHYSICAL EXERCISE IMPORTANT FOR DOGS? Dogs are natural workers. Retrieving, herding sheep and cale, guarding the house; these are all jobs dogs had thousands of years ago. Today dogs don't even have to work for food, and for the most part, they live easy sedentary lives. is lack of purpose leaves dogs no outlet for their naturally active tendencies-physical and mental-and it contributes to the development of behavior problems. Dogs that do not get enough exercise oen take part in the following: • Destructive chewing, digging, or scratching • Investigative behaviors, such as digging through the trash • Hyperactivity, excitability, and nighime activity • Play biting and rough play When a dog is bored, the trouble starts. ey get destructive, especially in a bully breed. Exercise will burn some energy and help harness the bad behavior. MENTAL EXERCISES FOR DOGS: SUPPORTING YOUR DOG'S COGNITIVE HEALTH If you leave your dog in the yard while you're away at work all day, don't expect him to entertain himself. Unless there is another dog to play with, he will have no problem sleeping all day or barking at what's on the other side of the fence. Mental stimulation for dogs (and humans!) is more exhausting than physical activity. "Constant thinking creates a lot of mental stimulation, which tires out the entire body," according to Off Leash K9 Training. ere are different levels of mental stimulation: • Basic: Playing fetch with your dog requires that he focuses his aention. Using foods like peanut buer or spray cheese in a toy requires that he strategizes how to get the food out. • Complex: Playing hide and seek with your dog is excellent mental stimulation because dogs are naturally good at tracking and retrieving. e most complex mental stimulation is for your dog to perform tricks and obey commands. Learning new concepts will wear out your dog in a good way! PHYSICAL EXERCISE FOR DOGS AND THE DANGERS OF DOG OBESITY Just like their human counterparts, dogs that regularly exercise will lessen their chance of becoming obese. More than half of dogs in the United States are overweight or obese, according to a study by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP). According to Vet Street, there are also many medical problems associated with obesity, including arthritic changes in overly burdened joints, increased risk of torn ligaments, back problems, and more. Exercising helps tone the muscles and helps the body and metabolic system function properly. e kind of exercise a dog requires varies depending on the size and breed. For example, fetching and swimming are best for dogs bred to retrieve, pulling for dogs bred to pull carts or sleds, tracking and exploring is best for hunting dogs, and chasing and catching for herding dogs. EXERCISE FOR SENIOR DOGS AND DOGS WITH JOINT DISORDERS Senior Dogs: A lack of exercise can weaken muscles and limit their activity. Here are some tips to keep your senior dog active: • Walk your dog 10-15 minutes daily, and slowly increase to 1-2 hours, three days a week. • Play tug-o-war or fetch (it's beneficial for you, too!) • Even a younger companion, like a puppy, can help get your senior dog moving! However, some older dogs do not enjoy the company of a younger dog, so you should arrange a "play date" to see if they get along. It is also best to prevent jealousy by paying aention to the older dog first. Dogs with Joint Disorders: Even a lile bit of exercise can slow down the progression of canine arthritis, and if your dog already has arthritic issues, it's still vital that he gets enough exercise. Short, low-intensity walks and swimming are great options for arthritic dogs. For dogs with dysplasia, it's essential to keep any extra weight off; it stresses the joints. Moderate running or walking can help strengthen the muscles around the joints. Swimming is also an option. Just because your dog has a joint disorder, don't rule out the importance of exercise. Exercise for dogs with a luxating patella or dysplasia, or even arthritis, is important with certain modifications. If your dog has a joint disorder, talk to your veterinarian before starting a new exercise regimen. FOR DOGS

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