Healthy And Safe Exercise For Your Dog - And You

Now that spring’s here, it’s a perfect time to get out and exercise – and having a canine companion will make it ever more enjoyable. But just as you follow safety measures for yourself, you need to know what will keep your dog from danger.

Here, from the ASPCA, are some tips:

Get your pet a check-up

Just as you’d ask your doctor about your health before you start on an exercise program, you should do the same for your animal companion. Have a vet check your dog out to make sure he’s healthy enough for a hike, or even a longer-than-usual walk. That may depend to some extent on the kind of dog you have, and his age.

According to the ASPCA, dogs with short or flat noses (think bulldogs) may have difficulty breathing, especially if they’re exercised strenuously. If your dog is younger than 18 months, don’t take her jogging or running because her bones are still growing.

Exercise is great for energetic young dogs, but sustained jogging or running is not recommended for young dogs (under 18 months) whose bones haven’t finished growing. And be careful about over-exercising large dogs, who often have problems with arthritis, bones and joints.

Besides telling you whether your dog is in shape to exercise, your vet can give your companion all the necessary vaccinations. If you and your pet are traveling a long distance for a vacation, the ASPCA says, tell your vet that. Different states have different vaccination requirements.

Make sure your animal companion is in shape

No one who starts an exercise program becomes a top athlete right away. We’re all familiar with the admonition to start small and set reasonable goals for yourself. The same is true for your pet. Contrary to what some people might think, dogs don’t have a built-in capacity for strenuous exercise. If you want your dog to accompany you on hikes, start with short exercise periods. The ASPCA says this is especially important if your dog isn’t in great shape. Dogs that are overweight or have short noses or thick coats may overheat easily.

Guard against pests and parasites           

You use sunscreen and insect repellent, and your dog deserves some protection as well. Fleas are especially dangerous to dogs, the ASPCA says, since they can cause serious skin irritation and infection as well as fatal anemia. They can also multiply and cause an infestation in your house.  

Outdoor environments are great, but they’re also a great place to pick up parasites, which are annoying at best. At worst, some parasites can cause serious illness and even death.

Fleas aren’t just itchy pests. In some pets, their bites can cause extreme skin irritation and infection. They can multiply until you’ve got an infestation in your house or yard, and once they’ve multiplied, they can be difficult to exterminate. Fleas can also cause fatal anemia in some dogs.