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I've never had a Chi before. Is this normal with toy dogs or should I be taking her to the vet? Most guides say that half an hour a day is necessary, like this one, but I'm not sure if that's too much for her. She's about 16 months. Any advice from any Chi parents here?
 

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A lot of things could be factored in. How much exercise is she used to getting? Is it unseasonably warm where you are? Is she overweight? Has she been checked by a vet to make sure she doesn't have any health problems? Is she otherwise active and running around?

My 6 year old pit bull was panting heavily after about ten minutes on our walk today. We haven't walked hardly at all since the spring, and it got a lot warmer than I was expecting it to. By the end of our walk, which I cut short at just over half a mile in twenty minutes, I thought I was going to have to carry her the last hundred yards or so back to the car.
 
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I agree with all the things that LeoRose said, but did you or the shelter/rescue/person you got her from have her checked out by a vet? If she hasn't had a recent vet check, I'd start there and tell the vet what you've observed.
 

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It is always a good idea to take a new dog of any age for a vet check. It helps see if there are any existing health issues and sets a baseline for weight etc. If your region has a risk of heartworms, its important to get the dog tested and started either on preventatives (if tested negative) or a treatment regimen (if tested positive).
if you don't have vaccine records, you will also want to have the core vaccines given especially rabies vaccine due to the human health risk and the law in most areas.

Many reasons a dog might be panting after a short walk but a vet check is both separate from that but also may help with that
 
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