6 steps to a healthy dog jog

6 steps to a healthy dog jog

Jan 27, 2010
By dvm360.com staff

Jogging shorts. Check.

Running shoes. Check.

Portable doggie bowl. Check.

Now you’re ready for the run with Rex. If your clients are going to jog with their four-legged friend (yes, a dog—we wouldn’t try a cat), Texas A&M University has the low-down on making the exercise safe and healthy for clients and their canines.

1. Veterinary visit. Clients should visit you for a full checkup to make sure their running buddy is hale and hearty. An orthopedic exam is especially important, says J. David Sessum, RVT, a veterinary technician at Texas A&M’s College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. It’s also safest to run with a dog at the right time in its lifetime: “Clients should consult with you for the best time to start strenuous activity with young dogs, and older dogs should be checked for heart disease and other underlying conditions,” Sessum says.

2. Size check. “Larger dogs do well,” Sessum says. “Smaller dogs may have a more difficult time due to their short legs. Short-muzzled dogs should be evaluated to make sure their airway can handle strenuous activity such as jogging.”

3. Good weather. When temperatures climb, clients should jog with their dogs during cooler times of the day. Warn clients of signs of heat exhaustion: gum paleness and labored breathing, vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, or coma.

4. Safe surfaces. Clients wear bought fancy running shoes; dogs don’t get the same luxuries for their paws. Encourage clients to avoid extreme hot or cold conditions and to watch for excessive wear on dogs’ pads.

5. Restricted food. We were all told to wait 30 minutes after eating to jump in the pool. That might be a myth, but you know strenuous exercise after a meal for a dog can lead to gastric dilatation and volvulus syndrome. Recommend that clients feed dogs after exercise. “Water can be given at any time, as long as the volume is limited to small amounts at each offering,” Sessum says. That’s where your portable doggie bowl comes in handy.

6. Leash. A dog needs to know the “heel” command so clients can keep their canines out of danger from traffic and fellow pedestrians. However, a leash—or a harness, for really excitable dogs–is still necessary. If possible, clients should pick times and places with minimal vehicle and pedestrian traffic.

Following these important guidelines, Sessum says clients who jog with a dog are taking part in a fun activity perfect for both species. For some clients, owning a dog will mean never running that stretch of boring sidewalk alone again.