Making sure your dog gets enough exercise is important for them to be happy and healthy. Dogs that get bored and have excess energy often find ways to entertain themselves, which often results in undesirable behavior like chewing, digging, general misbehavior, and more. But, it’s also possible for your dog to get too much exercise, which can be damaging especially to a puppy whose bones and joints are still developing. Here are some signs your dog is getting too much exercise:
1. Damage to Paw Pads
Your dog’s paw pads need care too. They can sometimes get dry and cracked during the summer and winter. Paw balm can help keep paw pads moisturized. But, paw pads can also sustain damage from wear and tear caused by too much exercise.
Check your dog’s paws regularly. Overworked paw pads may have tears or cracks or even visible flaps of skin. They may also look red, thinner than normal, or worn away. You may also see inflammation and infection accompanied by pus.
If you see any of these concerning signs, reduce your dog’s exercise and make an appointment to visit the vet. They can help you with healing your pup’s sore paws and also make a plan to help keep it from happening again.
2. Stiffness and Pain
If your dog is moving around slowly or showing signs of stiff muscles and joints, they may be overworking themselves and getting too much exercise. They may even show signs of pain like shying away from your touch, yelping when you touch them, losing their appetite, and more.
This is particularly noticeable following a period of rest after excessive exercise. When your dog gets up after resting, they may struggle or do so very slowly and carefully. Your dog may also avoid or flat-out refuse to use stairs or do any activity that requires a fuller range of movement or impact of any kind.
Stiffness, pain, appetite loss, behavioral changes, and more can also be signs that your dog has sustained injuries from overexercising. If you’re seeing any of these signs, it’s time to take it easy and visit the vet. If it’s just overexercising, your vet can help you reduce down to a level that’s safer for your dog. And, if it’s an injury, they can identify what’s going on and provide the proper treatment.
3. Heat Stroke and Heat Exhaustion
Too much exercise can be particularly dangerous during warmer temperatures as your dog can overheat. Heat exhaustion and heat stroke can quickly become dangerous and even fatal for dogs. It’s important for you to monitor your dog in the heat and to make sure they’re not overexerting themselves or overheating.
Overexertion can cause dehydration, difficulty breathing, and hyperthermia like heat stroke where your dog’s body can longer cool down and regulate their temperature. Senior dogs, young puppies, and brachycephalic dogs are particularly sensitive to warm temperatures, have more trouble cooling down and regulating their temperature, and are at an even higher risk of heat stroke.
4. Confusion or Lack of Focus
Some dogs are easily distracted. But, if your dog is showing confusion or a lack of focus that is not normal for them or they start missing cues and commands they have mastered, they may be getting too much exercise or they may be suffering from a medical condition.
Regardless, you will want to go to the vet and get your dog checked out to make sure nothing serious is going on. If the lack of focus or confusion is due to just overdoing it, taking a step back should help. No matter what the cause, your vet will be able to help with any necessary treatment and followup plans.
These are just a few signs your dog is getting too much exercise. You want to make sure they get enough, but, as with anything, you don’t want to overdo it. It’s especially important not to overexercise puppies when they are still developing. Puppies finish growing at different rates and some large breeds can take 2 years to finish growing!
If you think your dog might be getting too much exercise, you can try cutting back a little to see if it helps. It also makes sense to visit the vet and get their input. They can rule out medical conditions or illness and help you figure out the right amount of reduction or even identify activities to try that might be better for your dog.