Dog Delights: How to Build and Strengthen Muscles through Play

There are many fun and engaging ways to help your dog become stronger. Muscle strength is important for pets to live a long, healthy life. Dr. Susan Nelson, Kansas State veterinarian and assistant professor of clinical sciences reinforces the need for regular exercise. She says "Obesity is a big problem in pets, just as it is with people, and exercising helps keep the dog's weight down.”

Humans can also benefit from helping their pets remain trim through playtime. Recently, Michigan State University announced the results of a study, which claims dog owners are 34% more likely to hit recommended exercise targets. Many of these playtime activities can also help owners tone up a bit, too!

Ball Games

Never underestimate the power of the ball! Even simple ball games can work to activate unused muscles if played wisely. For example, consider throwing the ball uphill to increase resistance as your pup runs for it. Likewise, you can put the ball in a challenging location so your pet must work a little harder to reach it. If possible, include other dogs in the fun. Not only will the interaction encourage healthy social skills, but it will also keep your dog motivated. 

Run, Run, Run

Spring is just around the corner and that means more opportunities to enjoy the great outdoors! Running works to strengthen chest and leg muscles in dogs. Consider cycling with your dog to increase their speed and heart rate. Be sure to start off carefully while your pooch gets the hang of it! Stairs also offer a great opportunity for incline resistance training. Running upstairs will focus on the leg, shoulder, and chest muscles.

Don’t Be Afraid of Water

If you have access to a pool or swimming area, hydrotherapy works just as well in dogs as it does in humans. The water provides resistance which works to activate more muscles while remaining gentle on the joints. Hydrotherapy is particularly beneficial for senior dogs or those suffering from arthritis. 

Rainy Day Options

Not all exercise requires hills, water, and space. You can help your dog achieve optimal health while staying indoors. Games like as tug-of-war work on legs, shoulders, and back muscles. Platform training is also a popular way to both train and exercise your dog. 

If you still aren’t sure where to start with your dog, see if you can get a specialized wellness program developed. For example, Scarborough vet clinic offers individual assessments based on breed, age, and environmental challenges. As with all this exercise, it is important to look for signs of stress of over-exertion when introducing new routines. Also ensure that water is available at all times so your dog is well-hydrated before and after any physical exertion.

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