This article gives you some valuable advice on the potential hazards when out exercising your dog. Some great tips and hints to optimising the health and ultimately wellbeing of your pet dog.
Choose your area carefully:
Make sure the area in which you wish to exercise your dog is free from hazards. Uneven terrain can be dangerous when playing high intensity games which involve running. This is especially true if your dog has any orthopedic problems.
When playing throw and retrieve games:
Make sure the item you are throwing isn’t going to damage your dogs teeth or jaw. Lightweight items are better than heavy ones. Make sure balls are not too small or there is a risk they will become stuck in the throat. Also make sure the item you throw doesn’t have parts which can easily come away be swallowed or lodged.
Never throw sticks!! They can cause serious injury to the dog if they become lodged in the mouth or throat. This is a common injury in veterinary practice with sometimes fatal outcomes.
Make sure your dog doesn’t twist awkwardly on the hind legs when trying to catch the toy. This can cause joint or spinal injury. It may be safer to give your dog nice long throws so they can chase the toy rather than jump up for it. This is especially important of overweight dogs or those with existing joint or bone problems.
Retrieve games may not be suitable for dogs who have dental problems. Make sure you select the retrieve object with great care.
Make sure your dog is socialised properly. A dog who is aggressive to strangers or other dogs is difficult to exercise in public places. This poses a problem for owners since they can’t allow their dogs to take part in many great activities. Training and obedience classes are a must for such dogs. Tackle behavioural problems as soon as they appear.
Dogs lack an efficient body cooling system so exercising them in warm temperatures can put them at risk of developing heat stroke. No exercise should be undertaken in middle of the day, choose early morning or late night exercise sessions throughout the summer. Dogs particularly at risk are short nosed breeds, large breeds, long haired dogs and black dogs. See our article on hot dogs for more information.
Warm up and cool down
Any period of exercise should be preceded by a warm up for both you and your dog. This gently increases blood flow to muscles and greatly reduces the risk of injury. Always start off any exercise gently and gradually build up the intensity. Not only will a warm up prepare you physically, it will also prepare you mentally. Similarly a cool down is important as it removes the metabolic waste products created during exercise and therefore prevents muscle soreness.
Exercise is one of the greatest gifts that you can give your dog. Do it regularly and safely and you will both enjoy this wonderful activity for many years to come.