09 Aug 2016

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Running Ragged With Your Dog

Pet-Wise-BannerFINALBy Bonny King-Taylor, the doggy lama, pet coach

Here is a really interesting rule of thumb for running with your dog, shared by Dr. Justine Lee, DVM.

If the temperature + the humidity percentage adds up to more than 150, Don’t Do It!

For example, as I write this, it’s 84° with 71% humidity…at midnight.

84 + 71 = 155.

Dr. Lee says that means running right now is a bad idea.

I agree! Overheating is a huge issue, (see more below) but it is just one thing to keep in mind when considering running in the city. 

runningdogDon’t automatically assume your dog is a runner

Small dogs, giant breed dogs, puppies, older dogs, smooshed-nose dogs and pups with health considerations are not good jogging partners.

Some dogs, like my American Bulldog/Basset Hound mix, are just not temperamentally suited to strenuous exercise. Now, some people might call that lazy, but running simply for the sake of it may not be a good idea.

Watch those bones

Ashley Gallagher, DVM, of Friendship Animal Hospital, once said to me, “If you can’t run without sneakers, then neither should your dog!”

That may seem a bit extreme, but Dr. Gallagher has a point. Pounding on hard surfaces can take a terrible toll on your dog.

Puppies are especially at risk for skeletal damage that can cause pain for the rest of their lives, but joint and hip problems can wreak havoc on canines of all ages.

Just think how you feel after super strenuous exercise. The kind of muscle strain and joint soreness humans feel effects dogs in the same way.

Hit the dirt

In the same way that the sidewalk can help file a dog’s nails down, the abrasive nature of concrete and asphalt, can wear down or tear paw pads, causing bleeding, calluses, and infections. Contrary to what most people think, those rough pads are not the same as shoe leather!

To avoid these issues, run on grassy areas and dirt paths as much as possible. The extra added bonus here is that you will likely be more in shade than otherwise.

The National Mall is a lovely, shaded pedestrian area, but be mindful that the gravel on those paths can get stuck between toes, which can be very painful, and it can break nails and cause ankle instability.

Make It a Good Run

When you do decide to run with your dog, follow a few simple rules:

  • Check with your vet about dietary changes necessary for your dog’s health
  • Warm up with a walk before you hit your stride to avoid muscle strains
  • Use a short leash for better stability and to avoid dangerous distractions
  • Hydrate! Stop and offer water every 10 minutes
  • After our run, make sure your dog does not gulp too much water or food to avoid gagging and a very dangerous condition called bloat.

Beat the Heat on the Street

For our furry friends, the discomforts and dangers of summer weather include the heat, the humidity, direct sun, the air pressure, the asphalt, the sidewalks, hot metal, pests, parasites and pretty much everything associated with what we consider fun in the sun.

The truth is, your pet’s cooling system is notoriously poorly designed. Even short-haired dogs and cats suffer outdoors.

For instance, people tend to think of paw pads as equivalent to shoe leather. In one way, that thought makes sense because critters don’t wear shoes, right? However, it does not take into account that fact that paw pads contain hundreds of veins, very close to the surface of the skin. These veins carry blood and fluids from the heated ground, directly to the heart. And, since dogs perspire only through the tongue and between the paw pads, that heated fluid doesn’t get much chance to cool down before causing the entire body to heat up quickly.

Heat stroke can result, so the #1 rule is: If the street is too hot for YOU to walk on without shoes, your dog should not either!

Saving Grace Petcare, does not run with your dog, but we can provide exercise that is safe and comfortable…with the all-important socialization of pack walks. Contact us for availability.

In meanwhile, tell us in the comments below, about your favorite ways to keep cool with your dog and about your favorite trails and safe places to walk and run.

Until next week, take care of yourselves…and of your pets!

Join us next time, for more Pet-wise.pet-action


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One response to “Running Ragged With Your Dog”

  1. stellamommie says:

    Solid and timely information as always. Thank you for sharing!

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