Jogging with your Dog
I look forward to taking my young Labrador running with me now that the weather is getting warmer. Leif is a healthy 18-month-old who is full of energy. Do I need to condition him in some way for the running? Also, will it hurt him to go running when hot, humid weather sets in?
The advent of a few warmer, sunny days is inspiring many of us to look ahead to summer and outdoor activities. I expect our pets also will be happy to get some exercise and sunshine. You are right. Leif needs conditioning before embarking on strenuous exercise such as running. Start with short walks through the neighborhood. They will limber his joints and muscles and acquaint him with his surroundings in case he strays from home. When you move into running, gradually advance from short to longer distances. Watch your dog for signs of exhaustion and overheating -- for panting and wanting to stop. Exercise good judgement when the weather is steamy. If Leif has plenty of water and is conditioned to heat, he probably can withstand fairly high temperatures. Heatstroke can be a serious threat for pets. Protect against high temperatures and humidity by making sure Leif has plenty of shade and a ready supply of fresh water when he is outdoors. Rashes, itching, and shedding are common warm weather complaints. Fleas, insect allergies, some plants, pollen and heat usually are the culprits. You should check Leif regularly for ticks, fleas, and other pests -- to protect him and keep him from bringing them into the house. Frequent baths, brushing and trimming also are beneficial. When you use pesticides or herbicides, keep Leif out of the yard until the sprays dry. Dogs get these chemicals on their feet, lick them, and become sick. Cars, fences, and other animals also are summertime dangers for pets. You should secure Leif in a fenced yard and make sure the gate is kept closed. See that he is up-to-date on his vaccinations and heartworm preventative medicine. If he wears his rabies tag and a tag with your name and phone number, he can be identified if he does wander away. With these precautions, Leif should have a safe, happy and healthy summer and the two of you should have many miles of enjoyable running together.