Signs That Your Puppy Is Over-Exercising

Signs That Your Puppy Is Over-Exercising

Signs That Your Puppy Is Over-Exercising
June, 2022
Signs That Your Puppy Is Over-Exercising
Enough exercise provides your dog with a myriad of mental and physical benefits. It keeps your dog fit, maintains muscle mass, promotes a good range of motion, keeps joints limber, decreases obesity, and supports cardiovascular health.

Every dog needs regular exercise, especially herding or working dogs like collies with high energy levels. However, it isn’t an invitation to over-exercise your dog. But how much exercise does a dog need?

How much exercise a dog needs isn’t a one-size-fits-all situation, and it’s possible to exercise beyond your dog’s fitness level.

Dog breeds are different, and every individual dog has varying exercise needs. Younger dogs generally have more energy than older dogs, but over-exercising can lead to injuries and stress on your pup’s system.

Moderation is essential, and you should consider factors like age, energy level, weight, and health.

Over-exercising puppies, especially large breeds, is a huge concern because it negatively impacts their musculoskeletal development.

So how much exercise does a puppy need? And what are the signs that you’re over-exercising your puppy? Read on to find out.

2 dog walking side by side

Symptoms of over-exercising a puppy

You need to build up your dog’s fitness level gradually through regular exercise. It provides day-to-day predictability that your dog will truly cherish.

But what happens when you exercise a puppy too much?

Suddenly erupting into a rigorous exercise plan presents a real risk for joint and back injuries, respiratory distress, cardiovascular problems, and heat stroke.

You need to look out for the following symptoms of over-exercising your puppy.

Exhausted dog symptoms:

  • Excessive panting or difficulty in breathing: Panting helps your dog cool off after vigorous exercise, but excessive panting or difficulty breathing can mean your dog is overly exhausted.
  • Dehydration: Your dog can lose fluids and dehydrate from excessive exercise, especially in hot temperatures.
  • Abnormal drooling: Excessive exercise can cause a dog to drool or even foam when coupled with panting. It can be a way for them to cool off.
  • Fever: An abnormally high body temperature and can result from excessive exercise.
  • Change in gum color: Excessive exercise can cause overheating, stress, and excitement, increasing your dog’s blood pressure and causing the gum color to change.
  • Lack of urine: Lack of urine production can be a sign of heat exhaustion or overheating.
  • Rapid pulse: A rapid and erratic heartbeat is a symptom of heat stroke.
  • Tremors: Tired or weak muscles may cause your dog to shake. Your dog's tremors may also be a sign your dog is aging and getting weak, and you should avoid over-exercising them.
  • Lethargic: Your dog may develop lethargy or exhaustion when over-extended by excessive exercise.
  • Vomiting: Dehydration can cause your dog to vomit after exercise. Excessive exercise can cause too much excitement, or if dog owners don’t provide water when exercising.
  • Diarrhea: Can result from heat exhaustion or decreased transit time of food and water through the bowels because of overexcitement.
  • Dizziness: Excessive exercise can induce dizziness or collapse, usually preceded by a wobbly gait.
Dog on his back

Symptoms of overheating:

  • Panting: Overheating can cause changes in temperature and lead to excessive panting and heatstroke.
  • Noisy breathing: Your dog can breathe heavier than normal when overheated, stressed, or vigorously exercised to cool and calm themselves.
  • Collapsing or convulsion: Overheating from excessive exercise can cause your dog to collapse from exhaustion or go into a convulsion or seizure.
  • Change in gum color: Dark red gums are overheating and showing heat stroke symptoms that need immediate vet attention.
  • Vomiting: Vomiting is a common symptom of issues or sickness caused by overheating, including dehydration.
  • Diarrhea: Abnormally soft stool and stool with blood are big warning signs for heat exhaustion or overheating.
  • Body Temperature: Overheating can cause your dog’s body temperature to rise, and it can be life-threatening if it goes over 106oF or 41oC.

Excessive exercise can cause issues that threaten the well-being and health of your pup, and you need to ask yourself, does my dog show any of these signs after exercising?

If they do, you need to contact your vet, allow their body to recover, and reduce their exercise.


Over-exercising puppies can lead to major health issues

The tolerance and exercise needs of a puppy are different from those of an adult dog, and high-impact physical activity can cause serious health problems.

Their bodies, bones, muscles, and tendons are still developing. Pet health should be a top consideration in any exercise routine to avoid serious harm:

Wear-and-Tear on Paw Pads

Injuries to paw pads are more common in puppies as they love playtime more than they hate painful paws. They can run until the pads on their feet tear and continue running.

You can notice overworked pads by looking at the bottom of your dog’s paws.

They may have tears and visible skin flaps or appear worn away, red, or thinner than usual. Pus or swelling may be present in the case of infection.

Sudden stops when exercising can injure your dog’s paw pads. When done often enough, sliding stops can wear off the tough outer layer of the pad.

Sore Muscles

Too much exercise can cause muscle stiffness and pain, and you’ll see it after your dog rests following excessive exercise.

Your dog may struggle to get up, refuse to walk up or down stairs, or refuse to eat if it hurts to reach down to the food dish on the floor.

Sore muscles can even lead to muscle tissue breakdown, which can cause generalized and excruciating pain.

Breakdown products can compromise a dog's health and lead to kidney damage or failure.

Some dogs even push through fatigue or warning muscle and joint pain to have more play time with you, and it’s up to you to set boundaries.

You must limit your dog’s high drive to avoid exhaustion and injury related to over-exercise.

A dog in a swimming pool

Heat Exhaustion

Heat stroke and heat exhaustion are concerns from too much exercise, especially during the warm months. It can cause life-threatening hyperthermia, breathing difficulties, and dehydration.

There are even greater risks for short-nosed dogs from brachycephalic breeds, like pugs or bulldogs. They can’t cool off as efficiently as other dogs, making excessive exercise or long runs a terrible idea.

Too much exercise can also cause very old and young dogs to overheat because they have difficulties regulating their body temperatures.

Pet parents should practice restraint even if their dog really wants to because it’s not safe for them.

Growth Plate Damage

Growth plates refer to soft areas found at the ends of long bones in young dogs and puppies.

The job of growth plates is to fill with cells, allowing the puppy’s bones to become dense and long.

Excessive exercise can damage growth plates on big bones before they heal and seal up. It can result in joint problems later in life because their bones and bodies are still developing.

You must know that a puppy and an adult dog have different tolerances and exercise needs. Monitor your puppy on long walks. If they lie down, lag, or pant, end the walk.

Joint Injury

Sprain and strain can result in different dog joints from the impact of extreme exercise.

Toe joints face a higher risk, but the wrist and elbow can also be affected. Dogs carry a lot of weight in their front limbs, putting a lot of stress on those joints.

Dogs with very straight rear legs can face various problems in their knee joints from excessive exercise.

These include sprains, strains, cranial cruciate ligament tears, and meniscal tears.

Over-exertion can cause immediate pain in older dogs with osteoarthritis and accelerate joint tissue degeneration. Exercise is necessary for young puppies, especially giant breeds, but too much can cause joint problems later in life.

4 dogs sitting on a log

Puppy Exercise Safety Tips

So how much exercise does a dog need, or how much exercise does a puppy need?

The above signs of over-exercising your puppy can give you a clue. If you notice any of the symptoms mentioned, it’s time to stop and rethink your exercise routine.

New pet owners are encouraged to learn as much about their new dog’s breed as possible.

Consider your dog’s breed and breed size, as they have different tolerances to exercise and heat.

Regular exercise is vital to keep your puppy healthy, but don’t overdo it.

Don’t just concentrate on physical exercise. Ensure you also incorporate mental stimulation, which can use as much energy as physical activity.

Keep exercise limited to a short daily walk when your puppy is young with multiple play sessions and plenty of naps.

Gradually build up your puppy for longer walks. Take your puppy swimming, go for walks on different surfaces, or take your puppy to playgroups or the dog park to socialize with other four-legged friends.

They love to play, so you can vary the activities to avoid repetitive exercises!

Read: 10 Frequently Asked Questions About Dogs


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