Is your dog aging, injured, or in need of exercise? You may need to start a muscle-building routine for your dog. When assessing your dog’s health, veterinarians look at several markers like diet, weight, body condition, and muscle condition. Muscle condition is critical to your dog’s overall health.
When a dog suffers from muscle loss, they become weaker, have a lower immune function, and recover slower from illness or injury. Muscle loss is prevalent among aging, injured, or sedentary dogs.
To improve your dog’s muscle condition, you can incorporate a muscle-building workout into your dog’s daily routine. We’ll cover everything you need to know about muscle building for dogs.
Reasons to Build Your Dog’s Muscles
There are three main reasons to build your dog’s muscles:
To Strengthen a Senior Dog to Improve Health And Reduce Muscle Loss
Sarcopenia is the muscle loss that occurs with aging but, unlike cachexia, appears in the absence of disease. Older dogs lose muscle as they age because they aren’t as active, their joints are weakening, and they experience more inflammation.
The American Kennel Club Canine Health Foundation states that improving muscle mass will reduce injury, extend the life of your senior dog, and improve overall health.
To Regain Muscle After Injury, Surgery, or Illness
Muscle atrophy is a normal side effect of injury, surgery, and illness. Dogs lose muscle because of pain, disuse, and transferring weight. Dogs can also develop cachexia, which is muscle loss caused by various diseases like heart failure, cancer, and chronic kidney disease.
Your dog’s muscle will not return without proper exercise and diet. By incorporating a muscle-building routine, your dog will recover faster and regain mobility.
To Enhance Your Work Dogs Ability to Perform
Many dogs work to help people hunt, herd, retrieve, guard, and perform specialized jobs like service dogs and police dogs. Building muscle helps dogs to perform in their various work duties. Excellent muscle conditioning can improve flexibility, balance, speed, body awareness, mobility, and strength. It also reduces fatigue and injury.
Don’t Worry About Building Muscle on a Puppy
If your dog is under two years old, they are still considered to be a puppy. Puppies grow at different rates and exercise enough on their own. They do not need a muscle-building routine. Muscle building for puppies is discouraged because it can affect their overall development.
Breeds that Can Build Muscle Easily
Some dog breeds can build muscle more quickly than other breeds:
- American Staffordshire Terrier
- Doberman Pinscher
- American Pit Bull Terrier
- Dogo Argentino
- MyostatinPuppies naturally muscle build on their own.
- American Bully
That’s why many of these breeds are athletic or working dogs.
How to Assess Your Dog’s Muscle Condition
A trip to the vet is the easiest way to assess your dog’s muscle condition. Your veterinarian is certified to evaluate muscle condition and determine if your dog needs muscle building.
You can also use the World Small Animal Veterinary Association’s Score Charts for Muscle Conditioning and the Tufts University Clinical Nutrition Service video on how to assess your dog’s muscle conditioning score.
How to Build Muscle on a Dog
There are three areas you need to focus on to build muscle on a dog. Similar to humans, dogs need a balanced routine of a healthy diet, strength training exercise, and rest for recovery. By following this routine, you’ll be able to improve the muscle conditioning of your dog.
You need to feed your dog a diet rich in protein. A study from The National Library of Medicine found that dogs that consumed a 12% protein diet had a significant increase in lean body mass. Low protein diets that contain a substantial amount of corn gluten lacked the amino acids necessary to build body mass. Dietary supplements can also boost your dog’s nutrition.
- Start with a good nutritional diet six to eight weeks before training.
- Senior dogs need more protein and less fat in their diet to maintain muscle protein synthesis.
You’ll want to incorporate strength training exercises into your dog’s exercise routine. When starting strength training exercises, start slow and gradually increase the workout’s intensity and length. Remember proper hydration too. Your dog will need lots of water.
An excellent strength training workout consists of aerobic and strength training activities. Dogs should work out twice daily for 15-60 minutes. Activities that are great for building muscle for dogs include:
- Weight Vest Exercises
- Weight Pulling and Dragging Exercises
- Treadmill or Running
- Spring Pole Exercises
You should also ensure that your dog properly warms up for five to ten minutes by walking or jogging. Senior dogs need a longer time to warm up. And after exercising, your dog should cool down for five to ten minutes by jogging and then walking to help flush toxins.
Talk to your veterinarian about what exercises will be best suited for your dog.
Allow your dog time to rest and recover after exercising. Remember that dogs need 12-14 hours of sleep every day, roughly 50% of their day. Dogs only need to be active about 20% of the day, which leaves the rest of the day for relaxing and lying around.
Muscle Building Can Improve Your Dog’s Health
Whether your dog is old, recovering, or hard-working, there are many benefits of incorporating a strength training routine into your dog’s exercise schedule. You’ll want to balance this with a high-protein diet and plenty of rest to build your dog’s overall muscle condition for a longer, healthier life.
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