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.