We all know that regular exercise is a key ingredient for living a healthy lifestyle, and the same is true for our dogs. A fit animal is a happy animal and ensures that your furry friend will be around for a long and happy time. Regular exercise improves cardiovascular fitness, bone and muscle strength, and weight management for both you and your dog. Before you start hitting the trails with your pup, it is important to follow a few guidelines for safety.
Just like humans, you have to start with where your four legged friends are fitness-wise and progress very slowly to avoid injury or heat-related stress. This is especially true if your dog is a puppy, older, or overweight. Start with a slow walk of 5-10 minutes per day and add 5 minutes to the walk time no sooner than once per week.
Watch your animal for signs of fatigue and adjust accordingly. Dogs are very loyal and will follow you for days if you let them. Listen to their breathing rate along the way, and if they are struggling for air or breathing loudly, slow your pace or walk it out to allow them to catch their breath. Be mindful of the heat and humidity and adjust the pace slower and bring water for you and the dog. Pay close attention to your dog’s foot pads for signs of excessive wear and cracking, and avoid hot surfaces and trails with sharp rocks.
For most breeds, especially smaller dogs, walking is the perfect activity, while others prefer to run-walk or run. It also depends on the dog itself. Consult with your vet, as some breeds are better at distance running than others, and most are made to run for short durations or walk.
Participating in a 5K with your pet is a fun time, just don’t forget to make sure your dog is in shape for the race. If you’re looking for a great, family and dog friendly fun run, the Rotary Santa Run in Arlington Heights is a great first entry. Register for the Fun Run, taking place on 12/07 in downtown Arlington Heights. Click for more information including race day details and FAQ’s.