Going out for a run? It sounds like a great idea to bring your furry friend along with you, right? After all, dogs love exercise! But excessive jogging and outdoor conditions can actually be harmful to your puppy, especially certain breeds that aren't used to strenuous exercise.
Richard Goldstein, the Chief Medical Officer of Animal Medical Center in New York, advises joggers with dogs to be aware of their dogs' needs. "I think running with a dog is a wonderful thing, but it has to be done with just as much care as the person who is running takes," Goldstein recently advised in The Atlantic. "The things we encounter are people running with the wrong breed of dogs, forcing dogs to run, and then just doing too much."
Some dogs may love it, some dogs may hate it, but like humans, dogs need time to build up their endurance and capability in exercise. Try not to take very young puppies on strenuous runs, as they are still growing and developing, or senior dogs who are prone to injury — stick to playing games in your home or yard with these guys.
You should also avoid running with breeds, especially short-nosed or brachycephalic dogs, whose physiology can make it difficult for them to breathe. Pamela Schwartz, another doctor at the Animal Medical Center in New York advises, "All of their respiratory tract is in a very short space. Those breeds are at a very high likelihood of overheating — sometimes they'll just run and play and not stop until they go into heat stroke."
When running with your dog, keep in mind their physical needs. While you might be training for a marathon, your best friend just wants to keep you company — and doesn't have the words to tell you when they're too tired. Take plenty of breaks and watch out if they seem to be panting more than usual.
Your dog needs to drink as much water, if not more, than you're drinking on your run. "The only way dogs can dissipate heat is through panting, and that requires being able to lose water, so they get dehydrated very quickly," Goldstein says in The Atlantic. "You see runners with little bottles for themselves and nothing for their dog. They're going to need water more than you do, so if you think you need water, they're going to need double that amount."
If you place the back of your hand on the sidewalk and it's too hot for you to touch, it's going to be too hot for your dog. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, dogs can burn their paws on hot surfaces. Try jogging in the mornings or evenings to avoid the hottest times of the day.
The next time you're going on a run with your dog, keep in mind their own needs and the outdoor conditions, and you'll both be able to have a great time exercising together.
Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.