With summer just around the corner, everyone, including your dog, wants to be in shape for summer activities. Outdoor activities can be a fun way to spend time with your favorite pup. The veterinarians at The AMC have the following suggestions to make exercise safe and healthy for your dog:
- Have your pet examined by a veterinarian to ensure exercise is safe for your dog. Stop exercise and let your dog rest anytime he is resisting you, unable to keep up or showing other signs of distress.
- Always warm up your dog with a 10 minute walk prior to jogging or heavier exercise.
- Train your dog gradually to increase the amount of time and intensity of exercise over several weeks, just as you would train yourself.
- Massage your dog and provide gentle passive range of motion for all major joints. You may do this before or after exercise, but it is most beneficial AFTER exercise. In a side-lying position, keeping the limbs parallel to the body, gently flex and extend each joint of the front and hind limbs. Check out these videos on forelimb passive range of motion and hindlimb passive range of motion.
- Do not feed your dog a large meal for 2 hours prior to exercise. Exercising on a full stomach can predispose your dog to bloat, which can be life-threatening.
- Give your dog small and frequent amounts of water. To facilitate this, consider carrying a collapsible bowl or a specially made, dog-friendly, BPA-free water bottle.
- Avoid exercising during the warmest part of the day, especially if you have a short-nosed dog. Pugs and all types of bulldogs should stay in an air conditioned environment as much as possible and only have brief outdoor walks for bathroom breaks during peak heat. When heat and humidity are high, short-nosed dogs cannot cool themselves by panting as efficiently as their long-nosed cousins and are more prone to heat stroke than the average dog.
- Keep dark coated dogs out of direct sunlight while exercising. Their dark coats absorb heat, making them prone to heatstroke as well.
- Consider a cooling jacket for dogs exercising in summer heat.
- Provide your dog a shady place to rest after exercising. For elegant comfort, try these fashionable outdoor beds.
If you and your dog are running partners, consider registering for the Animal Medical Center Doggy Dash, a 5 mile run in conjunction with the New York City Triathlon.
Thanks to Dr. Leilani Alvarez from The Animal Medical Center’s Tina Santi Flaherty Rehabilitation & Fitness Service for her helpful hints on exercising your dog.