Did you know that simply owning a dog can make you healthier? Whereas non-dog owners walk an average of 168 minutes a week, dog parents walk an average of 300 minutes.

But this level of exercise is only scratching the surface. Your canine companion can help get you in better shape than any personal trainer or gym membership ever could. 

That’s because your dog is an ideal running partner.

Wayne

For starters, their bodies were designed for running:

  • Like most animals with four legs, dogs can cover short distances much faster than we humans can.
  • Dogs (including wolves and hyenas) are also built for long distances.  They can easily gallop at full speed for 10 to 15 minutes before breaking into a loose gait that carries them for miles and miles. According to Natural History Magazine, the only other animals to fall in this “long distance group” are horses, wildebeest, and of course, humans.

But it's not simply their physical design that makes dogs such excellent running partners. It's also their temperament. Dogs are loyal work companions who thrive on exercise. Put your dog to work, and watch your social bond deepen with each successive jog.

In fact, not providing your dog with sufficient tasks can lead to a number of behavioral problems, including restlessness and aggression. In the words of Runner’s World, “a tired dog is a good dog.”

And these are just the benefits for you. Your dog also receives any number of perks from regular exercise, including:

  • Weight control
  • Confidence (i.e. reduced fear)
  • Better digestion (and less constipation)
  • Better agility
  • Better circulation

Done correctly, regular jogging sessions are a win-win for everyone involved.  But how do you make sure you approach these outings correctly?

How to Get the Most Out Of Your Canine Running Relationship

Your dog is a natural runner. But before you begin training for that next marathon, you need to take stock of your dog’s needs, health and ability. Use the below tips to make the transition as smooth as possible:

1. Consider Your Dog's Age, Size, and Weight

Dogs are the most varied animal species on the planet. Some breeds are small enough to fit in the palm of your hand, while other breeds are large enough to take down big game entirely on their own.

  • Chihuahuas can't cover as much ground as golden retrievers can. But larger dogs are more prone to joint complications such as arthritis. Respect the size of your dog and adjust your running schedule accordingly.
  • Flat-nosed dogs like pugs and bulldogs often have more difficulties breathing than breeds with longer snouts. 
  • Age is also an important factor. Older dogs don't have the same endurance levels as their younger counterparts. But puppies younger than 18 months still need time for their bones to fully knit.

These are things you need to monitor no matter what. If your dog doesn't fall into the Top 20 Running Breeds, you'll need to pay extra close attention.

2. Environmental Considerations

In addition to monitoring your dog's health, you also need to survey external factors like temperature and running surfaces:

  • Unlike humans, dogs don't sweat. In order to dissipate heat, canines pant.  But they're not very good at panting while running. If the temperature is too hot or humid, consider scaling down your run or putting your jog off for another day.
  • Hydration is also important. Because dogs don't sweat, they’re much better at retaining water. But you still need to give your dog a fresh drink before, during and after every session.
  • Dogs were designed for running, but not necessarily on pavement. Their pads can blister easily, and leftover debris can cause irritation even after the jog is over. If at all possible, try to run on turf, grass, sand or soil. And be sure to clean your dog’s paws with a warm, soapy rag after each run.

3. Off-Leash or On-Leash Jogging

Another important decision — should you keep your dog on the leash or off? 

On the leash may be the better option for legal reasons (depending on how lenient your city is about canine restraints). You also need to assess your dog's ability to obey commands. If he or she doesn't come when called, it's best to stay on leash.

Assuming your dog is well disciplined, going off leash allows it to explore and set its own pace.

The Most Important Dog Running Tip of All

Regardless of age, breed or health, it is important that you start small and then scale up. You have to ease into an exercise regimen that suits your dog’s needs and ability.

How do you know when you’re moving too quickly?  

Unfortunately, your dog will never complain of fatigue. Thus, it is your responsibility as the pet parent to watch for early warning signs, such as:

  • Foaming at the mouth
  • Anxiety or stubbornness
  • Abnormally heavy panting
  • Glazed eyes
  • Signs of pain, stiffness or discomfort

If you're ever unsure about how to design an exercise schedule for your dog, don't hesitate to contact a veterinarian. Together, you can map out a manageable routine that keeps your dog in shape without putting his or her health in jeopardy.

 

Author Bio: Ashley Arnold is the both parent to her German Shepherd running partner and a world-class protection dog trainer for Wayne Simanovich Protection Dogs.

By Natalie Hennessy 50 days ago at 1:46 pm 0 Comments

Old age creeps up on everyone, but for dogs it often comes way too soon. Often, people don't realize their dog is slowing down until the dog is very old. It's better to be aware and monitor your dog's health and behaviors in the earliest stages of old age. For the average dog, old age is considered to start around six to ten years of age.

Keeping up with Old Age

How to Care For a Senior Dog

Although old age is inevitable, there are some things that can slow it down and other things that can keep your older dog comfortable longer. As a minimum, there are three signs you should watch and three veterinary tests to keep up.

Personally Conducted Tests

1. Does your dog seem to have hearing or vision trouble?

Test your dog frequently and make note of changes: Does he respond to your voice? Does he bump into things? Does he seem to get lost in his own yard? Is it easier to sneak up on him? Don't rely on your own tests alone. Take the notes from your results to the veterinarian and let the doctor test your dog as well. The doctor will usually be able to notice changes sooner than you will.

2. Keep notes about your dog's activity and diet.

Watch for signs of arthritis, loss of hearing or sight, loss of appetite and unusual gait. If your dog is slow to come when called or seems to get lost in the yard, it could be a sign of deafness or vision trouble - or it could be a sign of senility. If your dog seems to lose its appetite, it could mean dental problems, digestion problems or pain. Tiring more easily and sleeping more are usually normal, but a sudden or dramatic change in either should also be mentioned to the veterinarian.

3. It's not always easy to know the source of the problem.

For that reason, it's recommended that aging dogs see their veterinarian every six months even if they seem to be doing well. The more frequent wellness checkup helps your veterinarian more readily notice slight changes and get to the root of the problem quickly. Many dogs have suffered for years, needlessly, because their owners simply didn't understand there was a problem. Older dogs may slow down but they still want attention, playtime, walks and treats. Any change in those desires is likely a symptom.

Be sure the veterinary examination is thorough. A senior dog's examination should always include the skin, joints, eyes, ears, feet and more frequent blood work. There are some areas the veterinarian should pay particular attention to:

Veterinarian Conducted Tests

4. Blood Work

More frequent blood work is necessary for senior dogs. Many vets recommend a baseline for blood work should be taken, depending on your vet's recommendation, when your dog is healthy and around five to seven years old. This will show your dog's natural blood profile, so the doctor can compare future changes against the baseline. From there, your veterinarian will suggest the frequency of blood work, based on your dog's overall health at the six-month examination.

5. X-Ray

In some cases, your veterinarian may suggest radiographs (x-rays) or other tests to better understand problems such as arthritis. These can show arthritis or other, more serious problems that could be masquerading as arthritis.

6. Skin Tests

A thorough skin examination should always be done. You can help with this by noticing and tracking any lumps, bumps or growths that you see when grooming and petting your dog. Most of these will be benign, but some will require attention or a biopsy. The biopsy is a minor procedure that allows the vet to send a sample from the growth to the lab to determine if there are cancerous cells in the growth.

There are challenges to living with a geriatric dog, but the end results are well worth any of the challenges. Enjoy your older dog in his twilight years and take the extra steps to keep him as healthy and comfortable as possible. When it's time, be ready to let go, and stay with him to the end.

 

Erika Remmington

This article was written by Erika Remmington. Erika is a recent graduate from the University of California, Berkeley. In her spare time she enjoys spending time with her husband and 18 month old daughter. Click here to contact Erika.

 

 

Information Credit to Central Animal Emergency Clinic, a Vancouver Veterinary Hospital.

By Natalie Gomez on May 13, 2014 at 10:00 am 0 Comments

For many pet owners, maintaining an environmentally conscious lifestyle can be difficult. Although humans have reached the point where green solutions to common problems are aplenty, there is still a considerable amount of progress to be made in the animal kingdom.

Green Dog

Unfortunately, many pet products lack biodegradability, can be hazardous to the environment and can even degrade the health of your furry friends.  If you’re concerned with the effect that these products have on the environment, never fear, there are green solutions for pet owners everywhere.

Containment

Keeping your pets contained and safe from harm is priority number one. To the dismay of many pet lovers, runaways, thefts and other related deaths are still rampant in the animal world and claim so many lives each year. Fortunately there are ways to extend the lifespan of your pets while still preserving Mother Nature. 

  • A wireless dog fence can save you money, reduce consumption of natural resources and allow for complete control of your pet’s environment. It’s also easy to install, an excellent space saver and entirely humane.
  • Constructing a dog house or scratching post from materials around the house isn’t as difficult as some people make it out to be. It may be a bit of a weekend project, but your pets will love you for it.
  • Dogs and cats are great at entertaining themselves. Whether it’s an empty plastic bottle, or a discarded paper bag, giving them something to play with will keep them happy and loyal.

Waste

If you’re like most people, stepping in dog doo can really ruin your day. As common as it is, what most people don’t realize is its effect on the environment. Even though it’s a dirty job, cleaning up after your pet is not only a service to your community, but also a quick and easy way to upkeep environmental conditions.

  • Using environmentally sound disposable bags to clean up fecal matter reduces overall waste and prevents harmful bacteria from seeping into the Earth.
  • Most kitty litter is made from clay obtained through strip mining. You can combat this by only buying biodegradable litter made from wheat, corn, reclaimed wood or old newspapers.
  • If your pets don’t “make it to the newspaper” in time, use environmentally friendly household cleaners to assess the mess.  

Treats

It should come as no surprise that the foods you consume have a direct effect on your wellbeing. The same is true for your pets, and although it may be easy to buy the same dog food every time, paying attention to ingredients can be beneficial to your pets. You may not be able to get your cat to go vegan, but supplementing her diet with healthier options is highly recommended.

  • Introducing pumpkin into your dog’s diet through homemade treats can soothe stomach pains and ease digestion.
  • Frozen cat treats made from blended sardines and krill are a healthy snack for the hottest of summer days.
  • Before adopting a vegan diet for your dog or cat, be sure you do your research. Dogs have an easier time adjusting, but cats have been known to develop urinary tract issues when not fed adequate amounts of meat. Consult a veterinarian before making any drastic changes to what your pets eat. 

Pupsicles - Gus Sits

Ensuring the health and safety of your pets doesn’t have to be harmful to the environment. In fact, many green solutions prove more advantageous to both the wellbeing of your pets and the ground they walk on. So, next time you’re at the pet store, be conscious of your purchases and reach for a greener alternative. After all, this world is as much theirs as it is ours.

When Adam Holmes isn’t scooping poo, he’s lost in the lines of his notebook, writing about pet care. He’s had dogs and cats all his life and does his best to stay up-to-date on how to keep them healthy.
By Lauren Colman on Aug 07, 2013 at 6:00 am 0 Comments