Can you overexert your dog? Tips and Tricks

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Puppy over exercise symptoms and signs

The exercise needs and tolerance is different for a puppy than it is for an adult dog. Their bodies, muscles, tendons, and bones are growing and developing. As their growth plates on their big bones have not healed and sealed up, repetitive and high impact activity can do serious harm.

Monitor your puppy on the walk and end the walk if they show signs of overtiring such as lagging behind, lying down or panting.

For a full guide for how to exercise a puppy see here.

Signs that your dog is being over-exercised can include;

Dog is exhausted after exercise and seems to take a long time to recover.

Excessive panting during or after the exertion

Lagging behind when they are normally in front raring to go

Any lameness, limping or a reluctance to exercise or continuing to exercise

Appearing to be overtired after the exercise, or sleeping or laying down more than normal

Can you overexert your dog?

If your dog is showing any over exercising symptoms you should reduce the amount of exercise they are receiving for a few days or more. It may also be a good idea to massage your dog and do range of motion exercises to loosen stiff muscles and joints. Read “Dog massage step by step” to learn more. In addition, you can use a heating pad to soothe sore muscles.

As dogs can’t cool themselves in the same way humans do by sweating it is possible to overheat even if the weather isn’t that hot. For more on the signs of overheating or heat stroke read “Exercising your dog in hot weather”

Can you overexert your dog?

The dangers of heat stroke and heat exhaustion are very real and the potential for your dog to suffer from this are very high. Heat stroke can take several hours before it becomes deadly. Some extreme cases can cause death if the dog doesn’t receive medical care immediately.

panting with the tongue right out of their mouth and being scooped at the end,

Other signs to look out for are foaming at the mouth, thickening of the saliva and breathing difficulties.

Dehydration can set in fast. During dehydration, the dog’s mouth and gums will become dry and the skin will lose it elasticity. If you grab the skin on the back of the neck and stretch it will return slowly back into its natural position.

This is a sign that they are highly dehydrated and may go into shock. They will need IV fluids to be injected by your vet. Any signs of heat exhaustion or dehydration are a cue to stop the exercise and allow them to cool off.

Get into the shade or indoors if possible and give them small amounts of cool water. Don’t let them drink large amounts at once. Use a wet cloth to cool their paws, groin, and armpits. Cooling a dog down too quickly can cause them to go in to shock.

If they exhibit any vomiting, weakness, or seizures get them to the vet as soon as possible.

Heat Exhaustion occurs with exercise, particularly on hot, humid days. The symptoms are similar to those of heat stroke, but may not have the elevation in body temperature, as is the case with heat stroke.Normal body temperature for a dog 37 to 39 degrees Celcius

Heavy panting, tongue fully extended and scooped like a spoon at the end

Dazed expression, looking anxious, vacant, or staring into space

Drooling or frothing at the mouth

Unco-ordinated when walking and appear dizzy

Your dog lies down and cannot get up or collapses

Muscle cramping and tremors or even seizures

Depending on the seriousness of the situation, these are the steps you should take if they feel their dog is suffering from heat exhaustion:

Move your dog out of the sun and into the shade or an air-conditioned indoor area or car.

Give the dog frequent small amounts of water to drink; DO NOT allow the dog to drink copious amounts.

Rinse the dog off with cool water or use damp cloth especially the ears, groin, armpits, & belly.

Place your dog in front of a fan while still damp or use a newspaper or towel to fan the dog

Place ice bags wrapped in cloth or a cooling collar around your dog’s neck and against the groin area for rapid blood cooling.

Take the dog to the nearest emergency veterinary clinic.

Do not cover your dog, even with a cold towel. A towel will prevent the heat from escaping. Keep wiping the ears, groin, armpits, & belly with a wet cold washcloth.

How much is too much exercise for a dog

The amount of exercise and activity a dog needs will depend upon their age, breed, and overall health. Ultimately it comes down to your judgment. Monitor your dog’s energy levels. If they have excessive pent up energy they probably require more exercise.

If they seem flat and are showing some of the exhausted dog symptoms below, it may be necessary to reduce their exercise to allow their bodies to recover.

If you find yourself questioning are you walking or exercising your dog too much, you probably are.

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