How to ensure you don’t over-exercise your dog during lockdown

Chances are in lockdown, your whole family might each be taking a dog for a walk as a reason to roam outside and leave the house.

Although it’s great to give our pets plenty of exercise, there’s also a fine balance between too little and too much.

To help the nation navigate lockdown, Zoe Costigan, in house vet for pet wellbeing specialist firm Itchpet.com has provided information and advice on the optimal amount of exercise for you and your dog during this time.

Zoe suggested: “It’s a good idea for members of the same household to walk separately to ensure your dog gets out a couple of times a day, as they don’t have to much to stimulate them in the home. For some active breeds, like a collie or spaniel, one hour of exercise a day is negligible for their energy levels.”

To avoid more harm than good, Zoe shares her facts and top tips on optimal outings for your four-legged friend:

1 Two is the magic number – different animals have individual exercise requirements dictated by factors such as breed, age and lifestyle. It’s hard to hit that happy medium, but general good practice is to try and walk your dog twice a day – not only for the physical fitness benefits but for improved mental wellbeing. You don’t need to walk them more than this.

2 Too much change – if you have recently started walking your dog numerous times a day (and this isn’t what they’re used to) there are dangers to this, as it can lead to a range of musculoskeletal medical issues. For example, flare-up of inflammatory joint problems, muscular strains, limb discomfort or torn and sloughed pads. It’s not fair to suddenly start marching a dog that didn’t previously go out everywhere.

3 Panting puppies – take care to ensure you don’t over exercise puppies specifically. This can cause damage to their joints and affect growth and development, whilst being especially risky for larger breed dogs. If you notice your puppy lagging behind, allow them to stop, or if you see they’re overheating again, make sure to let them rest.

4 Old timers – be considerate of your older pets needs as well, if they aren’t capable of long walks, excessive walking can cause a flare up of arthritis, which is a debilitating joint disease. These dogs need regular consistent, short exercise. A sudden increase in exercise (although they may seem fine at the time) will manifest as extremely stiff or painful pets the next day and has potential welfare implications.

Hygiene after play time

As with people, it’s also important to remember general hygiene when it comes to having contact with your animals. As Zoe said: “It’s good practice to wash your hands after you have touched your pet. Remember that careful and prolonged handwashing and use of alcohol-based hand disinfectant can greatly reduce the chance of spreading any disease.

Remember to flea and worm your pet

As animal and owners will be kept in close confine, it’s important to remember to treat your pet for fleas every month and to worm them every three months – depending on the size of your pet.

For more information visit ItchPet.com.