As spring comes to the area, people are finally beginning to leave their homes and enjoy the great outdoors. For many, spring brings a welcome relief from the treadmill and the opportunity to run outside. This can be a great way to get your dog a little exercise, but there are dos and don’ts of exercising with your pet. Give yourself a refresher course before taking Fido or Fluffy on your daily run.
Know Your Breed
Many first-time pet owners, especially dog owners, assume their dogs will love daily bouts of rigorous exercise. While many breeds do enjoy it, some dogs are not built for strenuous workouts. You must exercise bulldogs, pugs, and similar breeds with special care because they don’t process air the same way other dogs do. Due to their smushed-in faces and narrower nasal passages (brachycephalic), these dogs may wheeze, sneeze, or gasp on runs. Ask your vet, adoption agency, or breeder which exercises are best for your dog. If you haven’t bought your pet yet, search for high-energy breeds that can process air efficiently, such as collies and retrievers.
Wait Until They’re Adults
Do not run or jog with a puppy or kitten, no matter how energetic he or she seems. Little pets’ growth plates are still developing, and running them can cause long-term health problems, especially if you exercise on concrete, gravel, or other rough surfaces. Wait until your pet is older to begin a routine. Ask your vet what age he or she recommends, and how to “graduate” your pet from easy exercise to more strenuous routines.
Just like humans, dogs and cats need to warm up before they engage in workouts. If your pet has been a couch potato thus far, start walking him or her short distances, gradually increasing pace and difficulty. Exercise in mild weather when possible, as extreme temperatures will bother your pet. If you often walk on hills or rough terrain, consider booties for your pet’s sensitive paws. Bring water and a collapsible bowl on walks or runs, especially if your pet is not used to exercise. If you have other questions, contact LAMC or your vet.