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Benefits of exercising with your pet

By Dr. Tiffany Gisel

New Year’s resolutions can be hard to keep, especially when you’re resolving to be more active and start a new fitness routine. It’s more fun when you have a partner, so why not get your pets involved too?

A daily walk with your dog, for example, helps you stay active and can help relieve stress. Exercise has great benefits for our pets, too. It helps them stay happy and healthy, and helps them maintain a healthy weight.

Daily exercise also strengthens the bond between you and your pet, and can help prevent some behavioral issues with your pet. Dogs that go on daily walks or regularly run in the yard or dog park are less likely to get bored at home and do things like chew or tear up the furniture, bark excessively or have trouble settling down.

You can also teach your pet tricks for a mental workout. The cliché isn’t true; you can teach an older dog new tricks. Learning a new trick and practicing old ones are great mental stimulation for your pet’s cognitive health. This is especially beneficial for senior pets to help keep their brains active.

Before you start exercising your pet, talk to your veterinarian about what kind and how much exercise is right for your pet. Be mindful of any signs of stress or soreness in your dog, especially in older pets.

And keep the weather in mind. Protect your dog from the dangers of heatstroke in spring and summer by taking walks either early in the morning or later in the evening when it’s cooler.

Tiffany Gisel, DVM, is a general practice veterinarian for the SPCA Tampa Bay Veterinary Center in St. Petersburg. She’s experienced in emergency and critical care, overseeing internal medicine, surgical, ophthalmology, dermatology, and dentistry patients, alongside specialty medicine veterinarians. She enjoys sharing her knowledge with pet owners and continues to thrive with advancements in medicine and surgical procedures.