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How Much Exercise Do Pets Need?

Pet Care Tips 4 min read
Spaniel dog running in a grassy field with a grey cat

Just like we humans benefit from exercise, our pets do too! All pets need exercise to preserve physical and mental health and use up pent-up energy. Pet parents often ask themselves, “how much exercise do pets need?” While it is a valid question, it is also important to keep in mind that different life stages, species, and health conditions require different amounts and types of exercise.

In this blog, I will talk about exercise for dogs, cats, bunnies, and ferrets. How much exercise is appropriate, according to life stage and health condition? How much exercise is too much?

Dogs

Puppies

Dogs generally are active and always want to play, especially if they are puppies when everything is new and fun.

Depending on the breed, age, and individual temperament, your dog may need more exercise than average. But overall, for puppies, exercise always means playtime. Playing fetch or tug, running around, or a walk around the block is always a good idea. Do not over-exercise your pet, as it can be dangerous for their health. For puppies, you can start with 10 minutes of exercise and increase weekly according to their growth.

Adult Dogs

Adult dogs will let you know how much exercise they need. They are stronger and the amount of exercise will vary accordingly to their temperament. Sometimes, different dogs of the same breed and age will prefer different types of exercise and benefit from a different length of time. Some may have way more energy and will require hours of exercise daily, some will require minutes. If your dog is hyperactive, running and/or swimming might be good options and more effective than just walking.

If your dog has any health condition, such as hip dysplasia, heart issues, arthritis, among other issues, always talk to your veterinarian to decide what type of exercise is best for your furbaby. For example, a pet with heart issues might benefit more from long walks, while a pet with arthritis or hip dysplasia might benefit more from swimming.

If after exercising your dog they are still running around and displaying a lot of energy, they may not have had enough exercise.

If after exercising your dog they are still running around and displaying a lot of energy, they may not have had enough exercise. Too much exercise can be dangerous, and your dog will give you signs that they are tired and don’t want to do that activity anymore. Some signs include panting, refusing to walk/run/fetch more, staying in one spot, refusing to move, and having their tongue out. If you see any of these signs, stop the exercise and give them time to rest. Overexercising can lead to overheating, collapsing, and even fainting and death, so always be aware of your dog’s signs.

Grey striped cat with green eyes laying on back while pawing at a rainbow ribbon cat toy

Cats and Ferrets

The reason cats and ferrets will be present together is because their metabolism, physiology, and needs are very similar. Their behavior is quite similar as well, including feeding behavior, energy, and ways to play and exercise.

Cats and ferrets love to hunt balls, small toys, lights, and this is a great and fun way to provide them with exercise. If your ferret or cat has a crate, providing multi-level crates with obstacles and platforms may be a great idea to help them stretch and keep up their physical and mental health.

Just like dogs, if they have any health condition it is important to talk to your veterinarian to decide the appropriate type and amount of exercise they need.

And because ferrets and cats have a stronger temperament than dogs, if they don’t want to exercise, they won’t. If they stop playing and running and hunting after a while, just leave them to rest. Always pay attention to their signs as well and if you notice anything wrong, please take them to your trusted veterinarian.

A white ferret wearing a blue harness attached to a leash outside. How much exercise dog pets need?

Rabbits

It is really important for rabbits to get enough exercise and prevent issues like obesity. Ideally, they require at least 3 hours of exercise in a large outdoor run, but the more the merrier for these jumpy, fluffy bunnies.

Rabbits usually exercise by running, jumping, digging (they absolutely love to dig!), foraging, gnawing. Rabbits live in burrows in the wild, which explains why they love to dig so much. With foraging in mind, although we do provide them with the food they need, it may be a good idea to build foraging rows, so they can explore and forage some treats. Gnawing is important for them so they can keep their teeth at an ideal length, so it is important to provide them with things that they can gnaw on.

It is not recommended to pick up your rabbit and make them stay on your lap, especially in the beginning. Rabbits are animals that are usually considered prey, they are often very scared of us and can be stressed if we make them be with us all the time.

And just like the other pets we mentioned, it is always important to be aware of signs of exhaustion they can show us, and provide them with the amount and correct type of exercise accordingly to their life stage and health condition.

If ever in doubt, the veterinarian is your best option to assess your questions.


And here at NHV, we can always help you with questions. To keep your adored pet healthy and active, we recommend adding Multi Essentials and Stimmune to their regimen.

Multi Essentials helps fill dietary gaps, support digestion, and provide support with promoting strong muscle and bone growth. It’s high in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants to ensure your kitten or puppy of any age is getting energy, vitality, and health for a happy life.

Stimmune supports a healthy balance of the immune system in pets to help their immune system keep functioning properly.

If you have any questions about your pet’s health, you can reach out to our team of pet experts by clicking the chat button below.

Dr. Rebeca Oliveira DVM

Dr. Rebeca Oliveira DVM

Dr. Rebeca is a holistic veterinarian from Brazil with a passion for natural and integrative medicine. She’s been studying integrative medicine and alternative (and healthier) diets since 2015, and now started to study the power of herbs with the NHV Family. In her spare time, you can find her spending time with her golden retriever, Kuga.

Published: September 9, 2021

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