The obesity epidemic is not limited to people only. Pets, too, are overweight — especially dogs. According to experts, of the 41 million pet dogs in this country, about 17 million are either overweight or obese. Don’t make your dog a statistic! Get Rufus running at your side so both of you can be healthy and fit.
If your little Pookie is sporting a pooch or your Lady is getting lazier by the minute, maybe it is time to introduce your pup to a running routine. Here is some insight on how regular exercise helps your dog, plus some safety tips on keeping your puppy fit and happy.
BURN CALORIES AND GET HEALTHY
Consider running with your dog a two-for-one special: Your dog will lose weight while lapping up the extra time outside, and you will stay fit as a result. In fact, a 130-pound woman walking her dog at about 2.5 mph (average) will burn about 183 calories in one hour – even more if you step it up to jog. And your increased activity can also reduce your risk of scary health concerns, like heart disease. According to a study by researchers at the University of Sydney, nine percent of the coronary heart disease among dog owners could be prevented if they walked their pups for at least 150 minutes a week – that is less than a half-hour per day.
RUN OFF BAD BEHAVIOR
Has your dog gone wild? Many vets recommend curbing pet behavioral issues with a regular exercise regimen. Bruiser can expend his extra energy and the mere routine of it will keep him on task – without him having to resort to destructiveness as a result of boredom. So before he chews up yet another pair of pumps, reduce your stress and his boredom by taking him for regular runs.
BASE EXERCISE ON THE BREED
If you have a teacup Chihuahua, a mile on your legs is like a marathon for his. Do not expect canines with short legs or stocky frames to keep up with your mileage. Do your miniature pooch a favor and slow down your pace – go for a short walk instead. Breeds like pugs, boxers and bulldogs are also at a disadvantage thanks to their smooshed-in noses or muzzles that make it harder for them to breathe during heavy exercise.
On the other hand, lithe, long-legged dogs like labs, dalmatians and most retrievers will have the stamina and energy to keep up with you on any run. If you are thinking about getting a dog or just wondering if your pet is a runner, the Dog Breed Info Center has a complete list of ideal running dogs.
SAFETY FIRST FOR YOU AND YOUR DOG
You make it a priority to run in the right shoes, wear the right gear, and only go out in the right weather. So shouldn’t you be just as cautious when you have your dog in tow?
To keep your pup safe while exercising, consider these tips from Run the Planet:
1. Start younger, middle-aged and overweight dogs on a moderate program of walking 10 to 15 minutes once or twice a day.
2. Be careful and watch for traffic. If you are on a street, have the dog by your left side and move against the traffic.
3. Keep in mind the type of surface you are jogging on. In the summer, asphalt and concrete become very hot, while grass and dirt stay relatively cool. To ensure your her longevity, be sure to keep your dog safe from the heat. Also, harder surfaces such as concrete could cause damage to the pads of a dog’s feet if you do a lot of heavy running, so grass might be better for jogging. In addition, if you enjoy running in the snow and cold, consider that Fido’s pads are directly exposed to the frigid terrain. You may need to invest in some dog booties to prevent frostbite.
4. Avoid jogging if your dog has any pre-existing health problems, such as a heart murmur or heartworms. Also, some dogs can overdo it, particularly older dogs, so take notice if your pooch appears to be getting tired.
5. During hot summer days, take water along, or jog by places where drinkable water is available.
6. Go out early in the morning or late evening when it is cooler, rather than in the afternoon heat of the sun. Dogs do not get rid of heat as well as humans do. They primarily eliminate heat through panting, and they sweat only through the pads of their feet, so they can get overheated very easily.
7. Take safety precautions if you plan to jog at night. Wear clothing that can be noticed in the dark, and attach illuminated strips to your dog’s collar.
For more details on exercising with your dog, visit the The Partnership for Animal Welfare