Active dogs are happy dogs but it’s our job to make sure our four legged exercise companions stay healthy and injury free as they start to get in shape.
First, make sure your dog is old enough to start an exercise program that includes jogging or intense cardiovascular workouts. Dog’s bodies don’t fully mature until they are 12-18 months old so stressful exercise before that can cause long term joint damage.
Once your dog is of age, build any exercise program slowly to give your pup‘s body time to adjust to their new routine. Start with a one mile run instead of ten!
As your dog starts working out with you, make sure to carefully watch for any injuries. Dogs want to make us happy and many won’t show signs of joint pain or muscle injury during exercise. So check your dog everyday for soreness or tenderness especially on their legs, hips, and paws (remember they aren’t wearing the new air cushioned tennis shoes like you!).
Beware of overheating. Dogs can’t cool their body as effectively as humans so Fido will start to feel the afternoon heat before you. Also, dogs cool themselves thru panting and the pads on their paws so if the pavement is hot, it means they may not only injure their pads but they won’t be able to stay cool. Make sure to watch your dog for signs of heat stroke on warm days and carry plenty of water.
Finally, remember that fuel is key! As your dog starts to exercise, his nutritional needs may change as his body starts to burn more fat and increase muscle. Your vet will be able to help you make sure that your dog is eating the proper food and getting any needed supplements.