MONDAY, April 30 (HealthDay News) -- Just like people, dogs need to get daily exercise to stay healthy, a veterinarian says.

"Dogs should get exercise at least twice a day, generally around 15 to 20 minutes each session for small dogs and 30 to 40 minutes or more for large dogs," Susan Nelson, clinical associate professor at the Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital at Kansas State University in Manhattan, said in a university news release.

The actual amount and type of exercise depend on the type of dog, its age and its health.

"It really depends on what the dog can do," Nelson said. "For short-legged or arthritic dogs, walking is good. Running is good for dogs that are bigger and are in good shape, but how much running to do depends on the dog and how in shape it is. You can't run a basset hound like you would a Great Dane."

Swimming can be a good for many dogs, especially those with joint-mobility problems. But make sure your dog can swim before you take him into the water.

Just letting Fido out to play on his own in a fenced-in yard isn't good enough, Nelson noted. Playing a game of fetch with a ball or flying disc are ways to give your dog a good workout.

Although exercise is important, don't let your dog overdo it.

"Some signs [of overdoing it] to look for include an obvious limp, if they are tugging on their leash and don't want to go forward, or if they start to lag behind," Nelson said. "As the weather gets warmer, watch out for overheating your dog. Signs include panting really hard; producing thick, ropey saliva; and getting a dark-red tongue. Taking water breaks along the way is a good idea."

More information

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has more about dogs and exercise.