Is Your Dog Getting Too Much Exercise?

May 20, 2020

Dog owners are frequently reminded about the importance of exercise for their furry babies. Regular exercise helps your pup maintain a healthy body and mind, but many pet parents often wonder if it’s possible for their dog to get too much exercise. The answer is—yes! 

Just like humans, dogs can overdo it. And just like humans, pushing themselves beyond their physical limits can range from mild discomfort and achy muscles to heat stroke or serious joint injury. 

Below are some of the most common telltale signs that your dog is exercising too much.

  • Excessive panting. Having trouble catching her breath and panting heavily is one of the top signs that your dog is needs a break. If this happens, Joe Alcorn, M.S., D.V.M. recommends letting your dog rest for at least 10 minutes to resume normal breathing or head home.
  • Pad injuries. For many dogs, playing is more important than getting the rest that they need. Check your best buddy’s paws regularly to make sure that they aren’t damaged. Pads that appear red or irritated, thinner than normal, skin tears, or that look infected are indicators of overuse and, moreover, extremely painful for your dog. Make sure that he takes it easy for a few days, giving the pads time to heal. 
  • Behavior changes. If Fido normally runs enthusiastically beside you but suddenly lays down on the ground and refuses to move, this is a definite sign that he’s gotten too much exercise. Ensure that he doesn’t exert himself further getting home. Whether that means carrying your pal to the car or to your front door, don’t force your dog to continue with strenuous exercise. 
  • Limping. Refusing to put pressure on a paw or walking with limp signals that your dog is injured. Check to make sure that nothing is wedged in her paws. If you can’t find anything, your dog may have a minor strain or sprain. Let her rest and avoid exercise for a week to see if the limp heals. If it doesn’t, it’s time to talk to your veterinarian. 
  • Appearing sore or stiff. Have you noticed that your dog is getting around a little more slowly than normal or seems sore when they move? Your dog might be suffering from muscle soreness due to over-exertion. Let her rest for a couple of days but monitor their behavior. If your furry baby isn’t back to “herself” after a few days of rest, make an appointment to ensure that there isn’t a larger concern. 


While there are no hard-and-fast rules when it comes to exercise for your dogs, talk to your veterinarian for general guidelines on developing a plan that matches your dog’s needs based on their breed, age, weight, and activity level.