And how that affects their overall health… 



Proper Nutrition and Microbiome 


Training and Socialization 

Stress Reduction 


Today, we’re going to focus on Exercise

Let’s start off with a quick quiz.

How much exercise do dogs need daily? 

  1. 30 minutes per day 
  2. 1 hour per day 
  3. 1-2 hours per day 
  4. Depends on the breed

How much exercise do cats need daily? 

  1. 10-15 minutes per day 
  2. 30 minutes per day 
  3. 1 hour per day 
  4. Depends on the breed


The quick answer is this: dogs vary widely by breed, but regardless of breed dogs should get between 30 minutes – 2 hours of exercise daily, while cats can do well with 30 minutes per day of exercise. Before we start talking deeply about exercise and the impact on pets, I need to clarify just why it varies wildly for dogs, but not as much for cats. 


Both dogs and cats were domesticated thousands of years ago, with dogs being domesticated first, presumably as work animals. Cats were domesticated at least 9,000 years ago to help catch pesky rodents. It may seem odd to note this, but it’s important for our discussion regarding why cats need about the same amount of exercise. Unlike dogs, cats were not systematically bred for diverse tasks or aesthetic qualities until recently. If you think about the size of various cats, they are relatively similar- whereas the size and demeanor of dog breeds can vary wildly – from a large and commanding 180 pound great dane, to a small and shy 5 pound chihuahua. 


Dogs have been grouped into 3 main categories for years now. Those categories are: 


Herding Breeds (eg: Border Collies, Australian Shepherds

Herding breeds were primarily developed to help shepherds manage and control flocks of sheep or herds of cattle. Their work involves a lot of movement, strategic thinking, and responsiveness to handler commands, making them highly trainable and intelligent. They are naturally high energy and that makes sense if you consider if used for their breeding purpose, they would likely run miles and miles per day. Their lives on a farm would be filled with purpose and plenty of mental stimulation. Without sufficient exercise, dogs in this breed category can be destructive, and/or excessive barkers. 


Hunting Breeds (Retrievers, Pointers) 

Hunting breeds were developed to assist hunters in finding and retrieving game. Each type within this category has specific skills, such as pointing to the location of the game (Pointers), flushing game out of hiding (Spaniels, Setters), and retrieving game (Retrievers). Because they worked closely with hunters they are gentle in demeanor and amazing family pets – so much so that we often forget their exercise needs are still incredibly high. These dogs love to run, swim, and especially play fetch. And because they have incredible senses they also enjoy scent work or tracking games. Like herding dogs, hunting dogs can also become destructive if they do not receive ample exercise and stimulation.

Toy Breeds (Chihuahuas, Pomeranians) 

Toy breeds were often bred for the purpose of companionship, sitting in laps of their owners, and being portable enough to carry around easily. They therefore have less demanding physical needs and can thrive in smaller spaces. This, however, does not mean they do not need exercise. In fact, toy breeds that are given the gift of daily walks will likely live longer, healthier lives. 


Now, of course there is variance from breed to breed and even within the breed there is nuance to this. You’ll see this mirrored in humans – while we all, arguably, need exercise, I’m sure you know someone (or maybe you are that someone) who needs a lot of exercise; ten mile runs every day, long bike rides, etc. If they don’t get enough exercise, their mood declines, they are antsy, restless, and can’t focus. The same is true for dogs. Though all dogs need exercise, there are some breeds that need more exercise and some individual dogs within that breed who need even more than what may be considered necessary. 

When you consider the benefits of regular exercise for pets, it’s clear that setting aside time for daily physical activity is not just a suggestion—it’s a crucial aspect of their care. Here’s a deeper look into why consistent exercise is essential for pets:


Physical Health Benefits

  1. Prevention of Obesity: Regular exercise helps burn calories and maintain a healthy weight, reducing the risk of obesity and associated health problems like diabetes, heart disease, and respiratory difficulties.
  2. Joint and Bone Health: Active movement strengthens the muscles around the joints, which helps support and protect them, reducing the risk of arthritis and other degenerative joint diseases. This is especially important for large breed dogs prone to joint issues.
  3. Digestive and Cardiovascular Health: Exercise improves gastrointestinal regularity and boosts cardiovascular health, helping to prevent conditions that can arise from sedentary lifestyles.


Mental Health Benefits

  1. Reduces Behavioral Problems: Adequate exercise can help reduce or eliminate common behavioral problems such as digging, excessive barking, chewing, and hyperactivity. This is because exercise helps to use up energy that would otherwise be directed into such unwanted behaviors.
  2. Improves Mental Stimulation: Exercise stimulates the mind as well as the body. Exploring new environments and engaging in play improves cognitive functions and helps keep pets mentally sharp.
  3. Stress and Anxiety Reduction: Regular physical activity is known to reduce stress and anxiety levels in pets, promoting a calmer demeanor.


Social and Emotional Benefits

  1. Enhances Bonding: Time spent exercising with your pet strengthens your bond. This can be through walks, play, or training exercises that require working together.
  2. Improves Socialization: Regular walks and outdoor activities provide opportunities for pets to meet other animals and people, which is crucial for building their social skills and confidence.


Given these benefits, it’s crucial for pet owners to integrate exercise into their daily routine:

  • Dogs: Depending on their breed, size, and age, dogs should get between 30 minutes and 2 hours of exercise daily. This can be split into two or more walks, combined with playtime or training exercises that stimulate both their body and mind. Even breeds with lower energy levels benefit immensely from the routine and stimulation of daily walks.
  • Cats: While typically more independent, cats also require dedicated playtime to keep them active and healthy. A minimum of 30 minutes, ideally split into two 15-minute sessions of interactive play, helps maintain their physical health and sharpens their predatory instincts.


Creating a routine that includes daily walks and play sessions not only ensures that physical activity is a regular part of your pet’s life but also provides structure, which is comforting for pets. This routine helps mitigate the risk of health issues and enriches the overall quality of life for both dogs and cats.


As we explore the various facets of pet health, incorporating a dedicated exercise plan is a fundamental aspect that goes hand-in-hand with proper nutrition, training, and stress reduction strategies. By understanding and implementing a comprehensive exercise regimen, pet owners can ensure their beloved animals lead a fulfilling, healthy, and joyful life.

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