VCA Healthy PAWS Medical Center
Published: Jan 18, 2013

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If you're a dog owner, then you're probably no stranger to the phrase, "Wanna go for a walk?" When your dog hears this, she likely perks up her ears and gets very excited, but you may find that you dread the trip around the block from time to time. However, fitness is essential in order to ward off obesity in dogs, a condition that could lead to serious health problems like diabetes in dogs. Spicing up your exercise routine with your canine companion can make your own experience more enjoyable and help her stay active. Here are some ideas on how to change things up:

Brisk walks are more exciting
Your dog may enjoy taking slow strolls so she can sniff every leaf and twig she passes, but this isn't the ideal way for her to get her exercise. You'll need to find a way to get her heart rate up when you're out and about, and one great way to do this is by taking "exercise walks." This simply means increasing the pace of your walk so your dog has to move quicker, and thus burn more calories. Use a shorter leash for such walks so your pet will be at your side, and remember - you are in charge of the pace. Your dog may protest at first, but eventually she'll learn that certain walks will happen at a faster speed. To keep your canine happy, mix in exercise walks with the occasional slow stroll.

Bonding with fitness
Another way you can change your dog's exercise pattern is by engaging in good, old fashioned playtime. Pick up a few toys you think your dog would like, or bring her with you to a pet-friendly supplies store and let her select her own. Make sure it can easily be thrown and chased, as a game of fetch is an excellent way to your pet get moving. Even less active games like tug of war can be good for your dog's pet health.

Social hour for your dog
If your pet does well with other animals, then consider bringing her to a local dog park. These are enclosed areas where canines are free to roam around off the leash, and it's not uncommon to see dogs start up a game of "tag," which means lots of running. Remember that it may not be safe to bring your pet to a dog park if she is prone to dog aggression, but if your animal is social, then these spaces can be ideal.

Hit the trails
Your canine companion may be content to walk around the same block three times a day, every day, but this is going to get boring for you pretty quickly. Every once in a while, bring your pet to a new location that you can explore together. Walks through the woods or strolls on the beach can be fun, but if you live in an urban environment, even visiting a new part of the city can be exciting.


Specialty Care

Sometimes sick or injured pets need the care of a veterinary medical specialist. When that happens, VCA specialty hospitals work closely with the general practitioner veterinarians who refer cases to us in order to provide seamless veterinary care to your pet. When your pet is facing any kind of serious illness or injury, our specialty referral hospitals will provide the compassionate and expert care your beloved pet needs.

Our goal is to make sure that when you and your pet are in need that you have access to board certified specialists who are up to date on the very latest developments in their field. In our state of the art hospitals, our specialists also have access to the most sophisticated diagnostic and treatment tools and techniques from ultrasonography and endoscopy to CAT scans and even MRI.

As part of the VCA family, we have over 83 specialty hospitals across the US and Canada which provide referral specialty care, so there may be one near you. Our specialized services include: behavior, cardiology, critical care, dentistry, dermatology, integrative medicine, internal medicine, neurology, oncology, ophthalmology, radiology, rehabilitation, reproduction, and surgery.

Find a VCA Specialty Care Animal Hospital near you:


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Emergency Care

At VCA Healthy PAWS Medical Center, we understand how frightening and stressful it can be when your pet requires emergency medical attention. If your pet has a medical emergency during business hours, please bring them in right away. You do not need an appointment and your pet will be triaged immediately. It is helpful if you call to notify us that you are on your way so that we can prepare the supplies needed for your pet's care.

If your pet has a medical emergency after hours, please contact one of the Veterinary Emergency facilities below.

VCA South Paws in Fairfax, VA 703-752-9100

The Life Center in Leesburg, VA 703-777-5755

Prince William Emergency in Manassas, VA 703-361-8287

VCA Alexandria Animal Hospital in Alexandria, VA 703-751-2022