Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Pet Talk

November 23, 2012

Pet Talk: Rover needs exercise as much as you do

As the semester rolls on and tests pile up, many students change their daily routine to one that is more study-friendly and, unfortunately, more desk-bound. What most students do not realize is that while their dog lies next to them on the couch day after day, it is being robbed of physical activity that is vital to its health.

Multiple studies show improved bone health, organ function and lung function in dogs that exercise. Dogs look and feel better with exercise, and they are less nervous when left alone.

“Exercise is good for maintaining general health, and it helps keep your heart, muscles and joints strong. It also helps with maintaining weight and coordination,” said Dr. Jacqueline Davidson, clinical-track professor at Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences.

Studies also show dogs that lack exercise usually have poor muscle tone and are more prone to injury, brain ailments and bone disorders. They are more susceptible to developing emotional problems and behavioral quirks, as well.

“Dogs that don’t exercise are usually overweight and have less dexterity. And their heart and joints aren’t as vigorous,” said Davidson.

“A lack of exercise can affect you and your pet in similar ways, like becoming chubby,” she said. “Obesity is a big concern for most animals.”

Getting you and your dog off the couch does not mean tedious and dreary daily exercise. There are many fun ways to stay active with your pet.

“For dogs, the choices are easy," said Davidson. "They enjoy almost anything you enjoy doing."

Options include walking, running, playing with a ball or a Frisbee, agility training, or even sports such as cani-cross and bikejoring, i.e. running or biking with your dog attached by an elastic line. (Davidson warns: “If you’re doing anything like attaching yourself to your dog, make sure the dog has decent obedience training and responds well to voice commands.”)

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