Like us, dogs need a good dose of exercise each day. Also like us, they are susceptible to over doing it which can lead to strains, sprains and injuries. Here is what you need to know so that both you and your workout companion can strengthen your bond and cardiovascular health safely.
- Speak with your veterinarian
It is always recommended to speak with a doctor before starting an exercise routine and the same goes for your dog. They should be examined by their veterinarian and given the all clear to begin. It is also important to note your dog’s age and breed, and what they mean to their endurance and capabilities. For example, long distance runs are not good for young and developing dogs or seniors. The breed is another indicator of the type of workout you can do together with some breeds being capable of harder workouts than others.
- Start slow and work up to a more vigorous routine
You couldn’t, or shouldn’t, go out and run a 10K without training for it and neither should your dog. Always start slow and work up to more intensive runs or hikes. Warming up is also essential to avoid injuries.
- Beware of outside temperatures and weather conditions
During the summer, shorten workouts and schedule them for early morning or evening when temperatures are milder. Remember, your dog is wearing a fur coat and feels the heat much more than you do. You should also be aware of the ground temperature, as pavement and asphalt can become quite hot and burn their paws.
In the winter, watch for clumps of snow and ice that can form in your dog’s paws. This is uncomfortable for them and can cause injury if not removed. And while salt makes it easier for us to maneuver over ice and snow, it can put unprotected paw pads at risk of drying, cracking, frostbite and even chemical burns.
- Know when enough is enough
If your dog shows any signs of exhaustion or pain, starts panting heavily or has trouble breathing, you have pushed him too hard. A workout shouldn’t get this far but mistakes happen and if it does, stop right away, allow your dog to cool and calm down and give him a few days to rest before getting back to your routine.
Hydration is always important while engaging in physical activity, but is especially important during the warmer months. If you will be out for an extended period of time, carry a water bottle so that your dog can have drinks throughout the run or hike. Having some treats on hand can also keep your dog’s energy up. After any exercise, a fresh bowl of water should be waiting at home.
- Post workout evaluation
After any workout, check your dog for cuts, scrapes and worn pads. If there are any, Nature’s Aid for pets can be applied to the area to help it heal. If you were out in a wooded area or anywhere with tall grasses, check their fur for burrs, ticks and any other objects that don’t belong.
Keep an eye out for injuries that may take a few days to show up and give your dog a chance to properly rest between workouts.