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All dogs need exercise.

Activities as simple as a brisk walk through the neighborhood or a jog in the park help to boost your dog’s health and wellbeing. All dogs do not need the same amount of exercise to stay fit, but they do need activity to keep their muscles toned, their hearts healthy and their minds sharp.

Purina Director of Sporting Dog Programs Bob West explains, “Exercise helps to build stamina and promote mental well-being. You should start slowly and ease into vigorous exercise. As the muscles warm up, blood flow increases to muscles, joints, tendons and ligaments. This helps to reduce muscle or ligament injury.”

Among the benefits of exercise, conditioned dogs handle heat better than dogs not in shape. West advises owners to take caution not to exercise in extreme heat or direct sun. Early morning or evening is best, when the temperature is cooler. Proper hydration before, during and after exercise is important too.

Exercise impacts many facets of dogs’ overall health, physically and mentally. An added bonus of sharing an activity with your dog is the special bond it creates between you and your favorite companion.