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Jogging With Your Dog
Jogging with a friend can help keep you motivated and fit. So
should your jogging buddy be short or tall, blonde or red-haired,
two or four-legged?
"Dogs need exercise just like people and jogging is a good way
to do this," notes J. David Sessum, RVT, veterinary technician at
the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, Texas
A&M University. "Dogs enjoy being outdoors and spending time
with their caretakers."
Prior to beginning a jogging routine, Sessum suggests a
veterinary check-up to make sure that your dog is in good physical
condition and can cope with the physical strain of running.
Additionally, certain dog breeds may make better jogging buddies
"Larger dogs do well with jogging," explains Sessum. "Small dogs
may have a more difficult time jogging due to their short legs.
Short muzzled dogs should be evaluated to make sure their airway
can handle strenuous activity such as jogging."
Sessum recommends that an orthopedic exam be performed before
beginning a jogging routine. During this exam, your veterinarian
can evaluate your dog's body condition score, weight, overall
fitness and help you develop a gradual introduction to a jogging
"Dogs of different sizes have growth plates that close at
different times," explains Sessum. "You should consult with your
veterinarian for the best time to start strenuous activity with
young dogs. Older dogs need to have a physical exam to make sure
they are healthy enough for strenuous activity and don't have any
underlying conditions such as heart disease."
Once your pet is given the go ahead to become a jogging buddy,
there are additional considerations for your pet's safety. Weather
conditions, food and water consumption as well as obedience skills
become important issues.
"If the weather is hot, jogging should take place during cooler
parts of the day," notes Sessum. "Most dogs have a thick coat of
hair and extreme heat can cause their temperature to elevate
quickly. Body temperature above 105 degrees Fahrenheit is dangerous
for a dog. This is when heatstroke becomes a real possibility."
Sessum says that signs of heat exhaustion include heavy panting
(deep breathing), weakness, confusion and vomiting or diarrhea. As
the condition worsens, there may be gum paleness, shallow breathing
and eventually, slowed or absent breathing efforts, vomiting,
diarrhea and finally seizures or coma, adds Sessum.
"Food should be avoided before immediate strenuous activity. A
large meal followed by exercise can lead to Gastric Dilatation and
Volvulus Syndrome (GDV), known as bloat, which usually requires
surgical correction," states Sessum. "Water can be given at any
time, as long as the volume is limited to small amounts at each
"Heel is a great command so the dog stays next to you while
running. Additionally, tripping or pulling the pet will not be a
concern," notes Sessum. "Also, consider jogging with your dog when
vehicle and pedestrian traffic are minimal."
Sessum notes that it is best to have your dog on a leash when
you jog because a leash allows you to control your pet and keep
them from hazardous situations. A standard collar works well, but
if your pet pulls against a leash Sessum says a harness might be a
better option since it allows you to control the pet's body, not
just its head and neck.
"The standard 6-foot leash allows dogs to move freely on a
relaxed leash. A retractable leash is more difficult to hold while
jogging and if the leash is totally released, the dog may get into
a dangerous situation or you could trip on the excessive leash
length," notes Sessum.
When running with your canine jogging buddy take into
consideration that you are wearing cushioned shoes, your dog is
not. Be aware of the type and temperature of surface on which you
"Your dog's foot pads should be monitored for excessive wear,"
notes Sessum. "Most dogs tolerate pavement and sidewalks well, but
be cautious in extreme hot or cold conditions."
Follow these simple safety tips so that your canine jogging
buddy running by your side experiences an enjoyable activity that
keeps both you and your dog fit.
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