As the weather gets warmer we will all be getting out and enjoying the sun. Some of us will even be running for fun with our favorite running partners, our dogs! Here are some things you should remember to stay safe while running with your best friend.
Consult with your veterinarian: Make sure your canine friend is healthy. Any health problems such as hip dysplasia, breathing difficulties, heartworms or any other condition can have disastrous results if they start a running regimen. Your veterinarian will discuss your dog’s ability and constraints with you. Every dog should have individualized goals based on their physical ability.
Stay Hydrated: If you need a water break so does your dog. Dogs can’t run and drink water at the same time like we can. When you drink, stop and give your dog some water at the same time.
Have the right equipment: You will need a leash, a harness, thermometer and a water bottle at a minimum. If you will be doing a lot of running on pavement then you will also need booties to protect their paw pads.
Communication: Make sure your dog knows and listens to the basic seven commands. If they won’t listen to you while at a walk, they won’t listen to you while running either. If they try to run off while you are going in a different direction then you could get hurt. Be careful!
Start slowly: Going from couch potato to marathoner in one weekend will lead to injuries and slow down any training regimen. Common injuries are torn cranial cruciate ligaments, muscle strains, tendon tears and paw pad injuries. Avoid these injuries by training slow, which is training smart.
Warning signs: It is important to realize that dogs are less tolerant of the heat than us. They cool themselves down by panting. Due to this one of the best ways to know when to stop is how they pant. If his tongue is hanging out of the mouth, panting is loud, tongue is to the side or blue, or if the commissures of the mouth are pulled back then it is time stop and rest. Offer water during this rest. If his breathing does not go back to normal quickly (1-2 min) your run is over for the day. Go to a shady spot and take your dog’s temperature. Anything over 104 is heat stroke. Other signs of heat stroke include collapsing or vomiting during your run. Seek immediate veterinary attention at the nearest vet clinic if any of these signs occur.
Keep these tips in mind while running with your dog. May you have a fun and safe time while running around Peoria with your best friend!
Dr. Rachael Kuhn-Siegel
Prairie Animal Hospital
Peoria , IL