Make Your Dog a Triathlete: Biking, Running and Swimming with Dogs, Part II

This Sunday, July 19th, the New York City Triathlon will feature athletes biking on the West Side Highway, running in Central Park and swimming in the Hudson River. As part of the weekend activities, canine athletes who have faithfully trained alongside their human counterparts will no longer be left on the sidelines on race day. The 2015 Animal Medical Center Doggy Dash gives man (or woman) and best friend the chance to compete in tandem over a five-mile running course. Each year, about 30 loyal pups and their loving owners participate!

The Animal Medical Center Doggy Dash gives canine runners the chance to compete, but for daily exercise, the three components of the triathlon are good ways for you and your dog to stay healthy together. Here are some tips about running and swimming with dogs. For tips on biking with dogs, check out last week’s blog.

Swimming with Dogs
Many dog families think all dogs can swim, but they are mistaken. I know firsthand because one of my patients drowned in the family fish pond. When it comes to the pool, pond or ocean, treat your dog like you treat your children. Never let your dog swim alone until you are sure of his swimming skills. Get in the pool and supervise dog swim time until you are sure he knows how to get in and out of the pool on his own. If you and your dog swim in the ocean or lake, start shallow and gradually wade out further until your dog is comfortable swimming. Avoid areas where there are rip currents that could drag your dog away from shore. 

Swimming is a great activity for arthritic dogs and dogs recovering for orthopedic surgery, but these dogs should use a doggie lifejacket as a swimming aid while they build up their strength. Watch how well this Labrador with three legs swims in its cute yellow lifejacket.

If your dog just can’t master swimming, but loves the water, consider getting him a kiddie pool for the backyard. He can safely keep cool on a hot summer day.

Running with Dogs
Carefully pick the time of day you run with your dog. Choose early morning or evening when it begins to cool down. Avoid mid-day when it is hot and humid. You stretch and warm up prior to running and your dog should too. Don’t expect Fido to jump off the sofa ready to run a 5K. Warm up and training are key for the success of the canine athlete. Consider making the exercises on The AMC’s dog exercise poster your dog’s warm up routine.

Don’t feed your dog right before or right after a run. After a run, let them cool down, have a drink of water and then feed a light snack. Be sure to help your running buddy stay hydrated by carrying a collapsible bowl or dog water bottle.

While your dog is cooling down after a run, check his feet for sores or blisters and his coat for any ticks that might have hitched a ride while he was exploring in the bushes. If the pavement is too hot for you to place your hand on, then it is too hot for your dog’s paw pads and running is off the schedule for the day.

Be considerate of fellow runners and bikers. Don’t use a retractable leash. When released to their full length, they can serve as a trip wire or provoke a bicycle crash on a busy path.

Stop by The AMC booth at Doggy Dash and say hi! You can meet some members of The AMC veterinary team assigned to monitor the health of Doggy Dash participants.  

The AMC Gives Not Just at Christmas, but All Year

For over 100 years, The Animal Medical Center has held fast to the mission of community service embraced by our founder, Ellin Prince Speyer. In 1910, Mrs. Speyer and her organization, the New York Women’s League for Animals, established a dispensary and out-patient clinic for all animals whose owners could not afford to pay for medical treatment. The clinic treated 6,028 animals in the first full year. To this day, in addition to caring for New York City pets 24/7, The Animal Medical Center continues to give back to the community.

Because The AMC’s main mission lies in promoting the health and well-being of companion animals through advanced treatment, research and education, we recently created a new Community Fund, AMC TO THE RESCUE, to provide subsidized specialty care to animals currently cared for by rescue groups. Through AMC TO THE RESCUE, we have provided a means for needy animals to receive care from one of our 30 board certified veterinary specialists. Since its inception in 2013, 20 dogs, 15 cats and one rabbit have received medical care supported by AMC TO THE RESCUE, which has led to the adoption of many of these pets into a forever home. Without the specialty care provided by The AMC’s board certified ophthalmologist, neurologist, internist, dentist, cardiologist, soft tissue and orthopedic surgeons, these pets might be spending yet another holiday as homeless and unadoptable rescue animals.

The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show
Veterinarians from The AMC volunteered their time to manage minor health issues and triage emergencies for the dogs competing at the 2014 Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show from the start of the First Annual Masters Agility Championship until the moment GCH After All Painting the Sky captured the 138th Westminster Kennel Club Best in Show. Our doctors happily donated their time and skills to ensure the health and welfare of these beautiful animals.

Animal Medical Center Doggy Dash at the NYC Triathlon
For the past seven years The Animal Medical Center has been the title sponsor of the Animal Medical Center Doggy Dash. Doggy Dash gives a runner and their best canine friend the chance to compete in tandem over a 5 mile course through Central Park, finishing at the NYC Triathlon finish line. Twenty-nine dogs and their human runners participated in 2014. To ensure the health and safety of the canine participants, seven AMC veterinarians and four licensed veterinary technicians volunteered to perform the pre-race health certification and monitor canine participants on the hot and steamy day of the race.

Emergency Medical Training for NYC First Responders
A new program for 2014, involving AMC veterinary volunteers, was a canine first aid and critical care workshop for first responders. AMC veterinarians and technicians provided training using canine dummies and cadavers to teach such practices as venipuncture, catheter placement, intubation, CPR, oxygen administration, and treatment of dogs in shock. Thirty-two medical operations personnel, including men and women from the FBI, undercover agents, fire department EMTs, paramedics, physicians, and even an Air Force para-rescue jumper benefited from the expertise and time of AMC volunteer instructors.

Partnering with Angel On A Leash
The AMC and Angel On A Leash are both champions of the human-animal bond and its role in enhancing human health and quality of life, believing in the positive role of therapy dogs in health care facilities, schools, rehabilitation, hospice, extended care, correctional facilities, and crisis intervention. Because of our shared missions, The AMC and Angel On A Leash again worked together this past September on the Ronald McDonald House Family Fun Walk held in Carl Schurz Park.

Giving Tuesday
On #GivingTuesday, the global day dedicated to giving back, the staff of The AMC gave not of time, but of money when they participated in a raffle. The proceeds, nearly $1,000, were donated to SAVE – Seniors’ Animal Veterinary Effort – a community fund supporting pet care for New York City seniors’ pets.

The AMC wishes you and yours the best of the holiday season and a 2015 filled with healthy and happy pets.

Ten Tips for Dog Safe Summer Exercise

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:

  1. 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.
  2. Always warm up your dog with a 10 minute walk prior to jogging or heavier exercise.
  3. Train your dog gradually to increase the amount of time and intensity of exercise over several weeks, just as you would train yourself.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. Keep dark coated dogs out of direct sunlight while exercising. Their dark coats absorb heat, making them prone to heatstroke as well.
  9. Consider a cooling jacket for dogs exercising in summer heat.
  10. 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.