Exercising with Your Dog
Exercising with your dog is a great way to get in shape. Just make sure to follow these important safety tips.
The surfaces you jog on are as important to a dog as they are for you, because dogs don't have the protection of shoes. During summer, running on asphalt or concrete can get extremely hot. If it's too hot for YOU to run barefoot, it's too hot for your pet. Look for dirt or grass trails. They're cooler on the feet and provide lower impact for you as well. If you live in a place where there are lots of road hazards or it's unusually hot or cold, consider dog boots or paw pads. They help protect the feet much like a pair of shoes.
Watch that your dog doesn't start limping. That's a sign they may have developed a blister, stepped on a thorn, cut themselves or pulled a muscle. You don't want to continue and risk further injury.
Heat can be deadly and dogs don't handle it as easily as humans do. They sweat through the pads of their feet and by panting. When the weather is hotter, jog in the early morning and late evening. Avoid the afternoon sun and remember that overweight dogs are at greater risk of heatstroke.
Your dog can't say, "I'm tired" or "I'm hurt," and they're very eager to please. So you've got to watch closely and make sure you don't overdo it. Check to see if your dog is panting excessively, slowing down or sitting, foaming from the mouth, is agitated or has a glazed look in their eyes. If your dog is exhibiting one of these symptoms, stop immediately and cool the animal down by wetting him with cool or tepid water (not cold). As soon as possible, get him into the shade or an air-conditioned area. If your dog starts to vomit, has diarrhea or doesn't begin recovering in 10 minutes, call a veterinarian immediately.
Watch for cars. Whenever you're on a road, you should be moving against the vehicles and keep your dog on the side that's furthest away from traffic. Speaking of cars, you also need to be seen. If you're going out at night, you should wear clothing with illuminated or reflective strips. Put a couple of strips on your dog's collar as well. Attaching a flashing light is even better. Put a clear one facing forward and a red one pointing backward.
Speaking of safety, it's also a good idea to keep your pet on a leash. It should be a length that's long enough to control the animal and no longer. Leashes can prevent sudden dashes into traffic and allow you to control your dog if another animal darts across your path. Ideally, your dog should run beside you. Train it by making a correction whenever the animal moves ahead or falls behind.
You also need to pay attention to other runners. A dog and his owner running side-by-side can take up as much room as two runners, making it a challenge to pass on narrow trails. Be aware of those other runners and move aside if they want to pass.
You need water and so does your pet. Bring along just as much water for your dog as you do for yourself. You'll also need something for them to drink out of. A collapsible camping cup can work well. Don't let them drink out of puddles, ponds, streams or the ocean. You don't know if the water is safe and saltwater can make dogs sick.
Remember the poop scooping bags. But don't use plastic grocery bags because then you're surrounding the turd, a material that will compost nicely inside a plastic tomb. The preferable choice is biodegradable bags designed for doggie cleanup. Bring a few of them, just in case your pet decides to take more than one bathroom break along the way.
Follow these simple tips, and you can get fit along with your dog.
Cold Weather Chart
This chart helps you determine if the weather may be too cold to take your dog outside. The source of information is the Tufts Animal Condition and Care (TACC). The chart was originally designed by Petplan.com. We simply made it higher resolution and posted it so you can download our version as a PDF file.
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CAUTION: Check with your doctor before
beginning any diet or exercise program.