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Your Dog Suddenly Refuses to Exercise? When to Call Your Vet…

March 10, 2010

Owners of active, athletic dogs sometimes seek out the help of their veterinarian because their pet is showing signs of exercise intolerance. These dogs may be underperforming compared with other dogs, or compared with their own usual performance standard.

Signs of exercise intolerance can be subtle, with suboptimal performance or movement difficulties noticed only by the dog’s owner or handler.

Alternatively, the signs may include profound exercise-induced weakness, episodes of collapse, or even death following exercise.

Please note the dvm360 article focuses on the conditions associated with exercise intolerance in retrievers. However, the conditions and principles of evaluating the problem in retrievers also apply to other breeds of dogs.

Exercise intolerance is a broad term often used to describe changes in a dog’s strength, speed or stamina during or immediately after activities he normally performs without difficulty.

These activities can include everything from your dog’s ability to take a walk or jump in and out of your car, to strenuous agility trials which demand short bursts of intense energy and extended periods of running and jumping.

If your normally active dog is showing sudden signs of exercise intolerance, it’s important you make an appointment as soon as possible with your holistic veterinarian to have her checked out.

If your pup is more couch potato than athlete, is overweight or is getting up in years, symptoms of exercise intolerance should still be evaluated. Your canine companion needs the ability to move comfortably and exercise regularly to stay physically and mentally healthy.

Preparing for a Visit to Your Veterinarian

Since exercise intolerance is by definition an intermittent condition which can be difficult to replicate at your veterinarian’s office, you’ll want to make some notes to take with you to the appointment.

Think about the following questions as they relate to your observations of your dog’s behavior. Jot down answers and other pertinent information to discuss with your veterinarian.

You might also want to videotape your dog exercising to see if you can capture the symptoms of exercise intolerance you’re concerned about. If you can play the video for your veterinarian at your appointment, it can be tremendously helpful in evaluating what might be causing your pup’s condition.

What to Expect During the Veterinary Exam

Every veterinarian has a slightly different approach to his or her patients, of course, but in most cases your holistic vet will first look for signs of abnormalities in your dog at rest, including:

If no abnormalities are found at rest, the doctor will move on to evaluate your dog for possible metabolic, respiratory or cardiac conditions.

If a cause for your dog’s exercise intolerance isn’t discovered through the above evaluations, your vet will then move on to explore the possibility of muscular, neuromuscular or neurologic disorders, most of which require specialized testing.

Causes of Exercise Intolerance

There are a number of health problems which could be at the root of your dog’s exercise intolerance.

Some of the most common include:

Your pup needs to be dieted down to a healthy weight and exercised daily to improve his level of fitness.

Obesity in and of itself can cause movement problems for your dog, and it can also trigger many other medical conditions that can also contribute to your dog’s inability to get adequate exercise.

If your dog has a heart condition, there can also be signs while he’s at rest, such as a rapid heartbeat, coughing or a weak pulse.

If your beloved companion is diagnosed with cardiovascular disease, don’t lose hope. Many dogs with heart problems live healthy, active lives with proper treatment, which can include medical intervention, dietary changes, nutritional supplements, and yes, exercise!

If the tumors are caught early, medical intervention and dietary adjustments can often bring long lasting relief.

Whatever the cause of your dog’s hypoglycemia, treatment and management of the condition will be required to insure your pup remains healthy and active.

This is just a sampling, not a comprehensive list, of the many possible underlying causes of exercise intolerance.

If your canine companion shows signs of exercise intolerance, especially if he’s a normally active dog and the symptoms come on suddenly, you’ll want to get him in for a veterinary evaluation right away.

Early diagnosis, proper treatment and necessary lifestyle changes can be the keys to getting your four-legged family member back on his feet again.

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