How much exercise does my dog need?

Dog Agility Jump Photo
Agility is a great activity where you and your dog work together.

We all know that exercise is vital to keeping our bodies fit and functioning as they should.  The same goes for your dog, but you might be wondering just how much exercise does my dog need? As a minimum, dogs need 30 minutes a day of physical exercise. The intensity of exercise varies depending on health, age and breed. Dogs who were bred for working activities, such as Labrador Retrievers and Border Collies, need up to 2 hours of exercise a day.

Exercise helps your dog keep unnecessary weight off, keeps his metabolism working as it should and keeps his muscles tones and his mind engaged.  Dogs that don’t get enough physical activity often turn to destructive behaviors. There is truth is the old adage, “a tired dog is a good dog”. Keep your dog engaged and pay attention to his signals.

If you have a smaller dog or a senior dog, a casual walk through the neighborhood might be enough activity, but don’t forget to switch it up a bit and occasionally go down a different street or go to the park.  Dogs get bored, just like you, so keep it fresh, but regular.

Here are some activities, beyond just a walk in the park, that you might want to try with your dog. Check in your area to see what groups exist so you and your dog can learn one of these sports.

  • Agility – This is a wonderful way to build your relationship and communication with your dog.It keeps you talking to each other and keeps your dog’s mind and body engaged.
  • Fly Ball – For dogs that are “ball motivated”, this is a great way of getting intense exercise that is fun and builds confidence.
  • Lure Coursing – This is a very intense exercise for dogs with loads of energy that are “prey driven”.
  • Nose Work -Sometimes mellow, sometimes intense, but for dogs who have a good nose, it keeps their minds engaged and keeps their bodies moving.
  • Rally – This a great way for you and your dog to work together on obedience and keep moving at the same time.
  • Swimming – If you are lucky enough to have a canine aquatic center near you, this is an unbeatable way for your dog to stay fit without any impact on his joints.It’s great exercise for any dog and a wonderful way to rehabilitee a dog with injuries or compromised joints.
  • Freestyle Dancing – Yes, you can take up dancing with your dog! It’s a fun way to build your relationship, keep both of you moving and work on obedience at the same time.

Every dog is different so it’s a good idea to talk to your veterinarian about how much and how intense the exercise should be, but don’t bypass this important and boding activity with your dog.

OH No, Not the Cough!!! Kennel Cough and Your Dog

Oh no, your dog is suddenly coughing and sneezing!  The infamous kennel cough or canine cough is a highly contagious respiratory disease that your dog can get from a virus or bacteria.  It can cause inflammation and irritation in your dog’s throat and lungs.

Similar to how we catch a cold when we are in an environment where someone has been sneezing and coughing, your dog can catch kennel cough the same way.  He can also catch it from direct contact with something another dog was touching or mouthing at another dog in play.

While it’s extremely rare for kennel cough to be life threating, you will want to do all you can to guard against it.  Your dog is especially at risk if he frequents places where other dogs go, such as doggie daycare, boarding, training classes, or dog parks.

The vaccine your vet will give your dog as a preventative for kennel cough is Bordetella.  It’s given either through the nose or an injection. The vaccine lasts a year, but the parainfluenza part takes about 3 weeks to be effective.  You’ll want to make sure you plan accordingly if your dog is going to be visiting boarding or daycare.  Many facilities require the Bordetella vaccine every 6 months, so be sure to check with your particular facility.  The frequency of how often Bordetella is given is really based on your dog’s lifestyle.  If he goes to boarding or daycare regularly, every 6 months is recommended.

The incubation period for kennel cough is anywhere from 3-10 days after exposure.  Someone else’s dog might have the virus and not yet be showing symptoms and then that dog passes it to your dog.  That’s why vaccinating is so important.

It’s also important to understand there are many different strands of the virus which means your dog might receive a vaccine and still get sick, just like how we can have a flu shot and still get the flu.

When choosing a doggy daycare or boarding facility it’s important to understand how important the ventilation system plays into your dog’s health.  Choose a facility with a good HVAC system, which greatly enhances the circulation of the building, keeping the air moving helps with preventing kennel cough and other viral infections.

Changing cleaning products on a regular rotation basis also helps to combat the virus so the environment does not grow to accustomed to one product.  Make sure the  facility is cleaned twice a day and the yards are power washed to help insure your dog gets a fresh environment, free from anything that could harm him.

If despite taking all the preventative measures, your dog still comes down with the cough, don’t despair. It’s easily treated with antibiotics from your vet and your dog will be better and back to his social lifestyle soon. To soothe his throat, you might also want to consider essential oils used in a cold air diffuser.  Eucalyptus Radiata is very gentle and could be helpful to your dog. Be sure to keep your dog at home and away from other dogs so the virus does not spread and also advise your doggy daycare if your dog has been a recent guest.  That way they can make sure to do a deep clean of the environment to help insure the safety of other guests and stop the spread.

 

What’s Causing my Dog’s Diarrhea? A Look at Coccidia and Giardia in Dogs

giardia and coccidia image
Standing bodies of water can harbor giardia.

There are many different things that could cause your dog’s loose stool, from eating too many liver treats or too much dairy, to just not quite feeling right, but before if the issue goes on more than a day or two, make sure you are able to rule out Coccidia and Giardia.

Coccidia and Giardia are both single celled organisms (not worms) that live in the intestinal tracts of dogs and cats.  Puppies and dogs that are ill or stressed are more susceptible to the parasites. They can cause diarrhea that can lead to possible dehydration if not treated.  Thankfully both are easy to treat but do require a visit to the veterinarian and a prescription.

How does my dog contract the parasites?

The most common way of contracting the parasites is by ingesting feces that is infected with either the mature parasite or the cysts, which are the eggs of the parasite.  The cysts can survive in a cool and humid environment, like what we get on cool spring days.  Giardia can also be contracted through drinking from water that is exposed to feces (puddles, streams) or that another dog with Giardia has been drinking from.  The parasites can also be ingested when your dog groom himself to get dirt that could be infected off his paws.

Coccidia is often passed from mother to puppy if the mother is shedding infected feces.  Young puppies don’t have immunity to fight off Coccidia, so the organisms can reproduce in great numbers.  Most puppies that get Coccidia are between 4- 12 weeks old.  If your puppy is in this age group and gets diarrhea be sure to talk to your vet. Coccidiosis is very contagious especially among young puppies, so be sure to take precautions.

What are the symptoms?

The most common symptom is diarrhea.  In Giardia, the stool can range from mildly soft to quite runny and watery or even bloody.  Coccidia can be asymptomatic in mature dogs but can cause very watery diarrhea with or without blood in puppies.  For dogs that are experiencing diarrhea, they can also appear weak from the dehydration.  Remember dehydration is serious issue.  Be sure to take your dog to the vet if you notice any sudden changes in your dog’s stool.

How is it diagnosed?

Your vet will need a stool sample and will conduct an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay test.  The stool is examined under a microscope to see if any parasites are visible.  The diagnosis is simple and treatment takes 1-3 weeks.  During treatment, but sure to keep your dog clean, especially and his hind quarters to prevent re-infection.

How do I prevent my dog from contracting it?

Always provide clean drinking water for your dog.  Keep your yard clean and keep an eye on your dog when you are out for walks.  Don’t let him drink from any suspect water sources and make sure he’s not ingesting things he finds on the roadside.  If your dog contracts the parasite and has diarrhea inside the house, clean the soiled area with boiling water or a 10% ammonia solution.

Can I get either parasite from my dog?

It’s very rare for a human to get Giardia or Coccidia from a dog.  Humans can get Giardia, but the type the infects humans is different from the type that infects dogs and cats.  Same goes for Coccidia. The type of Coccidia your dog is most likely to get is not transferable to humans.