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Should You Go Running with Your Dog

 by jaime on 07 Jul 2014 |
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As a dog owner, one of the most responsible things you can do for your pet's health is to provide it with plenty of exercise. Dogs are just like people when it comes to their health needs. The human body needs good food to provide it with energy, and exercise to help maintain a healthy weight and cardiovascular fitness. Your dog's body has all of those same needs.
 
It is not uncommon for avid runners to consider buying a dog to become their running companion. However, it is important to realize that not all dogs are suitable running partners. If you are considering getting a new dog as a running buddy, or want to make your current pooch a partner on the trails, you'll need to research a few things first.
 
Breed matters
Exercise is important to any dog, but that doesn't mean that running is the right type of exercise for every dog. Size isn't necessarily a determining factor in identifying which breeds can safely run along with you and which cannot. The most important factor to consider is whether or not your dog is a brachycephalic breed. Brachycephalic breeds are short-snouted breeds such as boxers, bulldogs, and pugs. All dogs cool down while exercising by panting. Breeds with shorter muzzles have a harder time cooling down and are prone to overheating. Exercise is still important, but running can easily result in overheating in brachycephalic breeds.
 
On the other hand, there are some breeds that make the perfect running partner. These dogs vary in size from extremely large breeds to medium-sized breeds. Many dogs from working breeds have high energy levels and a physical structure capable of sustaining long runs. Siberian Huskies, Rhodesian Ridgebacks, German Shepherds, Border Collies, Dalmatians, Weimaraners, and Jack Russell Terriers all have high energy levels and make great running partners.
 
Age matters
Your dog's age is a very important factor in determining whether or not it can, and should, run with you. Young puppies less than 18-months-old should not go running. Exercise for these pups should be limited to playtime in the backyard because their bone structures are still growing and have not solidified to a point where it is safe for them to run for long periods of time. As odd as it sounds, you should exercise caution in taking any dog older than 6-years-old out on a long run. Remember, dogs do not age at the same rate as humans. A 6-year-old dog is not a spring chicken anymore. Their joints are starting to age by this point in life and running could result in pain.
 
Also, certain breeds are prone to genetic joint issues such as hip dysplasia. This can be a very serious condition that is not only painful for your dog, but also limits its mobility. If your dog is over six, consult your veterinarian before taking it on a run with you. It may be possible to continue running with your dog past this age, but you will have to start shortening the distance for them.
 
Use common sense
You wouldn't hop up off the couch one day and decide to run 10K - your body wouldn't be ready for it. Apply that same common sense to your dog's body. Take the time to ease your dog into running, gradually increasing the distances over time as you notice its fitness level increasing. Before you head out for a run with your four-legged buddy, remember to take a look at the weather and consider your route. While you have the luxury of wearing running shoes and clothes to protect you from surfaces, debris, and the elements, your dog does not have that luxury. Keep an eye on your dog for signs of overheating, and bring along water if you are going for long runs or hikes. This is particularly important during the summer months.


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