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Treating Enzyme Deficiencies and Chronic Diarrhea in Dogs

dog, toilet paper

There are many things that can cause diarrhea. Stress, indigestion or diseases which affect the intestinal tract, for instance, can all be contributing factors. Another serious condition that can lead to diarrhea is exocrine pancreatic insufficiency (EPI).

EPI prevents your dog’s body from producing sufficient digestive enzymes to break down food and inflames the intestine. This causes the dog to have loose, pale-colored stools as well as a ravenous appetite and bouts of weight loss. In addition, because the food is not broken down in the gut, your dog is not able to absorb the nutrients from the food, and is essentially starving to death.

Your veterinarian will need to perform blood tests to evaluate the level of digestive enzymes present. These tests, along with a history of weight loss, diarrhea, and increased appetite can help make a definitive diagnosis of EPI.

Dietary Supplements and Other Treatments for Better Digestion

Treatment for this condition may include dietary changes so that food can be more easily digested. For instance, dogs with chronic diarrhea, may be placed on a low-fat, high-fiber diet in order to make the stools firmer. Digestive enzyme supplements are also added to the diet to help resolve the diarrhea. If your veterinarian recommends this course of treatment, he or she may recommend a moderate amount of fat in the dog’s diet, assuming the carbohydrates are very digestible.

If diagnosed with EPI, your dog will require supplemental digestive enzymes added to the food for the rest of his life. These special enzymes work to break down food so the animal can absorb the available nutrients. Other supplements that help promote better digestion and may alleviate diarrhea in dogs with EPI include probiotics, prebiotics, and plant-derived enzymes.

Enzyme Replacement Therapy

Dogs suffering from EPI also run the risk of developing a vitamin B12 (cobalamin) deficiency because the vitamin is not absorbed from the food eaten. Vitamin deficiency of this sort is seen in more than half of dogs with EPI. Once a deficiency of B12 occurs, your dog will have difficulty gaining (or maintaining) weight, even when he or she may have been doing well on enzyme replacement therapy.

Because of this, any animal that is not improving on enzyme replacement therapy should be checked for B12 deficiency to determine if supplementation is necessary. The most effective method of giving vitamin B12 is by injection. Injections will be given until levels are high enough and any secondary intestinal problems are improved.
 

Image: Annette Shaff / via Shutterstock

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Therapeutic Services for Dogs (and Cats)

Labrador retriever dog laying down on hallway floor

You know there are physical therapy centers for people who are recovering from traumatic injuries and life saving surgeries, but did you know that the same service exists for dogs (and cats) as well? In fact, veterinary rehabilitation therapy is a growing field in animal medicine, especially as pet owners become more educated on the similarities between human and animal physiology and increasingly expect the same type of care for their pets as they do for themselves.

Depending on what your dog is recovering from, therapy options may include massages, water therapy, heat and cold therapy, electrical therapy, acupuncture, ultrasound, and stretching, amongst other options. These therapies can help your dog to regain mobility, decrease pain, reduce weight, increase strength, and, in some cases, return to participating in athletic activities (if she had been previously). Here we will focus on two of the more common therapies that are available for pets: massage and water therapy.

Massage Therapy

Just as humans find relief from stress and injury in a therapeutic massage, so are dogs soothed by a massage. Massages accelerate the rate at which damaged tissues are able to heal, calm the animal and reduce pain. There are therapy centers that offer deep tissue massages for dogs, but even a basic therapy massage can greatly improve your dog’s well-being and recovery time.

Sporting dogs are increasingly being treated with massage therapy after competitions to help reduce stiffness and speed up recovery of muscle and tissue tearing, while older pets that are slowing down and losing mobility can benefit from its ability to reduce pain, swelling and the stiffness that naturally occurs in older joints.

And, just as for humans, therapeutic massage can help to reduce emotional stress in pets. If your dog (or cat) is behaving differently or seems distressed or depressed following a major change (such as a move or death in the family), massage can help your dog to recover and transition through the change more easily.

Water Therapy

Animals that benefit most from physical therapy performed under water tend to be older, overweight, or unable to put weight on an injured limb. Water allows for a complete range of motion while being supported by water, while the light resistance from the water helps to build muscle and improve blood flow. Specially designed therapy pools are used so that the animals are getting the full benefit of normal exercise without all the stress on the joints and muscles. One of the devices therapists employ is the underwater treadmill, so that the dog can go through the normal motions of walking without weight bearing down on healing bones, joints and muscles.

The use of water therapy has been shown to loosen up tight, constricted muscles, improve strength and stamina, reduce pain, increase mobility, and even help dogs to lose weight.

physiology

The study of the functions of the body

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The Post-Workout Cool Down for your Dog

Did you realize that just like you, your dog also needs to cool down after a run, hike, power walk, or game of fetch? Dogs that work or play hard need their owners to look out for them. Here are a few basic tips for a proper post-workout cooling down. 

Hydration, Hydration, Hydration

Always be sure to take along plenty of water for the both of you when you go out for a long hike, walk or run with your dog. Stop for water breaks, maybe around every mile or when you see that your dog is panting, allowing your dog to drink just enough to quench her thirst each time. Don’t allow her to gulp large amounts of water at one time, as this can lead stomach upset or bloating.

One of the more practical products available for dogs is a water bottle cap that releases small amounts of water when the dog licks the roller ball in the spout; they conveniently attach to standard disposable water bottles. You can also use a bottle with a pop-up spout, so that you can control the amount of water your dog is drinking.

Cool Down

Just as a cool-down period after exercise is important for humans, dogs should be allowed the same luxury. Toward the end of the run, power walk or hike, gradually slow down and walk casually for several minutes to allow your dog’s body temperature and heart rate to slow down. You might even consider giving your dog a muscle rub-down or help her to stretch her limbs once you get home.

If it’s a particularly warm day, douse a towel in cool water and drape it over the dog’s shoulders. If your dog’s starts panting heavily and the panting doesn’t slow down even after you have slowed down for a water break, or he becomes disoriented or weak, call a veterinarian right away.

Forgo the Food till Later

You should not exercise your dog right after a meal, as this can lead to digestive upset or bloat. Keep in mind that your dog will no doubt be very hungry after a long workout. After a period of cooling down and rehydrating with water — small amounts at a time so he doesn’t gulp too much down — feed your dog her normal meal.

Body Check

If you have the fortune of having a place to exercise in the great outdoors, away from the urban sprawl, you will need to be especially vigilant about checking your dog for ticks and other small hazards after every outing. Check inside the ears, under the belly, and between folds of skin (e.g., armpits, neck) where insects might hide. Run your fingers through her haircoat and remove any foreign objects like burrs. Even in urban areas, your dog can pick up little bits in her paws and nostrils. In fact, part of your post-workout routine can be a thorough and relaxing brushing.

Foot Care

Don’t forget that feet are an important part of your dog’s body and should be given special care. Inspecting the toe pads and nails after a day out running or playing is of vital importance. Check carefully for any cuts, cracks, blisters, or dirt stuck between the toes. If necessary, wash the feet and dry them carefully before checking them over. If you see any serious wounds or damage to the foot pads or nails, check with your veterinarian for care instructions.

Image: bigbirdz / via Flickr

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The Hype of Hypoallergenic Pets

By Yahaira Cespedes

Allergy sufferers dread spring, because to them spring means itchy eyes and runny noses from hay fever and pollen — the dreaded spring allergies. This is especially true for people who suffer from heightened allergic reactions due to asthma. In addition, recent studies have indicated that people suffering from hay fever may have worse allergic reactions if there are dogs in their environment. If you’re an allergy sufferer but want to adopt a pet, what choices do you have?

Actually, many pet choices exist for people who suffer from allergies ranging from the traditional domestic pet (like a dog or cat) to exotics including reptiles and aquatic animals. Some domestic animals produce fewer allergens than others, categorizing them as “hypoallergenic,” or less prone to cause an allergic reaction.

As allergy sufferers know, the most common pet allergy is to pet dander. For this reason, a lot of people may think that longhaired animals equal more dander in the home. This is not necessarily the case, because all warm-blooded animals produce dander, even birds.

People allergic to cats might also react to a protein found in feline saliva called FELD1. Recent developments in science have had promising results in finding a “cat allergy cure.” In March, the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology reported a vaccine had been developed, which showed no serious side effects and had reduced the skin’s inflammatory reaction by 40 percent with one single injection. This vaccine is still in the testing phase.

If you already have a pet dog in your home and suffer from spring allergies, you probably have a HEPA air filter and take antihistamines to reduce itchy, watery eyes and a stuffy nose.

It is important to note that there is no 100 percent hypoallergenic pet. Also, the term “hypoallergenic” means less allergens, and is not synonymous with non-allergic. No animal is completely non-allergic, just some have a lower incidence of causing allergies than others.

Whether you already have a pet in the home or want to get one, this article will explore how to select a hypoallergenic pet, how to reduce allergens in the home, and options available as an additional strategy to combat pet allergies.

petMD has provided the following comprehensive lists to check out, whether you’re searching for the right dog, cat, or starter bird to introduce into your home. Also, there are other, more exotic options available for adoption that you may have not considered!

petMD does not endorse one breed of pet over another, and the purpose of introducing this list of more hypoallergenic pets should serve as an overall recommendation guide only. Remember, there is no such thing as a 100 percent hypoallergenic pet! That being said, below are a few lists of potential pets that may suit you — just click the list you want to go to that page:

asthma

An allergic disorder that results in difficulty breathing.

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The Best Places to Pet Your Dog

By Kellie Gormly

Dogs aren’t too different from us: Sometimes they’re in the mood to be touched and other times not. And just like some humans prefer a back scratch to a head rub, some dogs prefer a chin scratch to a back pat. Respecting the dog’s individuality and reading its body language are the keys to petting a dog in a way that it will enjoy.

“‘Does my dog want this?’ I don’t think we ask that often enough,” says Jonathan P. Klein, a Los Angeles-based certified dog trainer and behavior consultant. “The key is to develop a relationship with the dog where the dog trusts you … you can’t change first impressions.”

So, before you give a dog a pat, consider these tips.

Best Spots for Petting a Dog

There isn’t any body area that is inherently off limits to petting, Klein says, different dogs have different preferences. However, if an otherwise docile dog lashes out when you touch a certain area, he may be injured in that spot or in pain from an illness or he may have had a bad experience with touch on that spot in the past. Check with your veterinarian if there are signs of pain. If it is something that comes up suddenly, it is more likely a medical cause, Klein said.

You’ll want to pay close attention to the dog’s signals, said Dr. Meghan E. Herron, head of the Behavioral Medicine Clinic at The Ohio State University Veterinary Medical Center.

“Sometimes it is hard to tell if the dog reacts from pain or from feeling frightened,” she said. “But if the dog has been showing wiggly body language and suddenly yelps, growls, or snaps when a certain area is touched, it may indicate pain.”

The cause of petting sensitivity could be from a number of ailments including, ear infections, or pain in the neck, back or hip. Some dogs might be uncomfortable with people touching their feet because of previous discomfort with nail trims, Herron said.

How to Pet a Dog

If you are approaching a dog you don’t know, avoid hand movements that could look threatening. Commonly, people reach for the top of a dog’s head, however, this can seem threatening to the dog because your hand is reaching over the dog’s eyes. Petting a dog on the chin or chest is not nearly as threatening, Klein said.

Also, as a safety measure with a strange dog, if you put your fingers behind its jawbone, the dog can’t turn and bite as easily. You also should approach the dog with the back of your hand and him sniff it, Klein said. “You can’t grab [a dog] with the back of your hand, and dogs know this,” he said. “The trick is not to threaten the dog.”

Herron agrees that dogs do best with more of an indirect approach to petting. She recommends asking the dog’s human for permission to pet, then turning to the side and crouching down by bending at the knees, instead of bending over at the waist. Let the dog approach you, then place your hand, palm up, on your thigh. If the dog leans in, scratch him under the chin, chest and sides of the neck. If the dog leans in, then petting its back and sides should also be fine, Herron said. And if a dog rolls over and shows you his belly? Don’t be fooled. He is not asking for a belly rub, at least not if it’s a dog you don’t know well.

“Often, dogs roll over when strangers reach out as a sign they are feeling a bit intimidated and need some space,” Herron said.

Tips for Petting a Dog

After briefly petting a new dog, back off and let him decide if he wants more.

“If we stop after, say, five seconds, the dog can make a choice and we can see what that choice is,” Klein said. “The important thing is to look at the dog’s reactions. Let them make the choice and let them tell you how they feel about what you’re doing.”

Look at how the dog reacts to your petting gestures from head to toe. While a wagging tail may mean a dog is ready to interact, it may not mean it wants to interact in a friendly manner, Herron said. “You want to see loose and relaxed body language from tail to head,” she said.

Signs a dog is uncomfortable with petting include turning or moving away from your hand, lip licking, yawning, wet-dog shaking, suddenly stiffening, ducking the head and showing the whites of the eyes. Back off if a dog is showing any of these signs, and certainly if the dog is growling or showing his teeth, Herron said.

“If the dog freezes or stares at you, or has a furrowed brow or wide eyes, with ears back or forward, those are all signs that the dog has a problem with your approach,” Klein said.

Klein recommends tailoring your style of petting toward the emotion of a situation. If you calmly stroke a dog, it will calm him, whereas if you want to excite him (to encourage him to play or retrieve something) give the dog energetic, playful pats.

The same careful technique to approaching a strange dog applies to kids. Tell young ones to crouch down, offer their hand on their thigh and let the dog take the lead, Herron said.

“Pet in the same direction as the hair grows,” she says. “Never hug, kiss, pet over the top of the head or put your face in the face of a dog you don’t know really well.”

Image:  / Shutterstock

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Staying Safe While Walking with Your Dog at Night

Nighttime walks with your dog are fun — and necessary — but they can also be hazardous. Visibility is diminished, meaning that not only will you not see all of the obstacles and ground level hazards (e.g., sharp objects like rocks and glass), you will also not be as visible to motorists and other pedestrians, such as bikers and joggers, who may unintentionally invade your dog’s personal space. There are also the nighttime critters to take into account — the raccoons, the opossums, even the neighborhood cats that prowl at night, all can be distractions for your dog.

Improving Visibility  

There are so many useful and easy to find products for night walking that we only need to list them to get you started. Of course, the easiest and thriftiest solution is to get a roll of reflective tape and attach it to your dog’s collar, leash and harness. But if you want a product that has been specifically designed for nighttime visibility whether light is shining directly on you and your dog or not, there are plenty to choose from.

The most no-nonsense are the blinking light collars, leashes and attachable collar lights (similar in size to a typical collar tag), the latter which can be found in long lasting, far reaching lights — as strong as a standard flashlight in some cases. Look for the products that have easy battery replacement to guarantee that you always have what you need.

  • Collars and leashes with reflective strips and lights, so that even when a light is not shining on your dog, the lights will illuminate your dog in the dark — blinking lights and steady lights are both available
  • Clip-on blinking lights, to attach to your clothing and to your dog’s leash
  • Collar tags with reflective coating
  • Brightly colored and reflective vests for you and your dog
  • Reflective leg bands for your dog
  • Flashlights that attach to your dog’s collar, or onto your own head (e.g., the type used by mushers, climbers and miners)
  • Lighted pooper scooper or combination flashlight waste bag holder/dispenser
  • High pitched whistle

Using Caution

Even if you have outfitted your dog with the best lights and reflective gear, it is still best to carry your own flashlight to be sure that you are in control of your own field of vision. We recommend a headlight, the style worn by mushers and miners, so that your hands are free to hold onto your dog and clean up.

Other precautions to take at night are to walk against traffic if you must walk on the roadside (you should stick to the sidewalk otherwise). While walking toward traffic might seem counterintuitive, it enables you to see what it coming so that you can get out of the way quickly, if need be. Always stay aware of the sounds and movements around you, and be prepared to move quickly.

We are not advising an attitude of fear, just an attitude of awareness. There may be loose dogs, nocturnal wild animals, roaming cats, and in some places, troublesome people. There are also joggers and bicyclists who may not be paying attention and come up on your and your dog too quickly, startling your dog. And with these things in mind, always keep your dog on a leash, and always keep a firm hold on the leash. Nighttime is an especially bad time to lose your dog.

Don’t forget about what you are wearing. If you are wearing dark clothing, you will basically be invisible in the darkness. At the very least, you should have a light colored jacket to wear at night. Better is to have reflective clothing for your night walks. A reflective jacket and sneakers will improve your visibility tremendously, and if you reinforce the outfit with a couple of blinking clip-on lights and a head light, you can be sure not to be missed in the dark. Remember, you can always make your own reflective gear using a roll of reflective tape. Last but not least, make sure you have your cell phone tucked securely into your pocket.

Image: Kamal Hamid / via Flickr

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Soluble Fiber for Dogs with EPI

oats, oatmeal, fiber, dogs

Animals with pancreatic insufficiency (EPI) have a diminished ability to break down the foods that they eat and use the nutrients for survival. Because of this, dogs and cats diagnosed with EPI require a specialized diet, including soluble fibers, and enzyme replacement therapy for the rest of their lives.

Feeding Factors

There are several dietary factors to consider when faced with caring for an animal with EPI. Your pet will need to be fed several small meals daily, all of which must contain a powdered digestive enzyme replacement. In some cases, you won’t need to change your pet’s base diet at all. Simply providing an enzyme replacement with the food may be enough to successfully treat him or her. In other cases, switching the previously fed diet to a good-quality, highly digestible product with a significant amount of protein, moderate fat, and lower levels of fiber will be necessary.

Fiber has been found to interfere with the function of pancreatic enzymes in the intestine. It may also inhibit nutrient absorption. Because of this, diets with a higher level of fiber should not be fed to animals with pancreatic insufficiency. The majority of fiber in the diet should be of the soluble (digestible) type, as this can be beneficial in firming up bowel movements.

Fiber Sources

Adding soluble fiber to the diet can be especially beneficial for animals that develop secondary bacterial overgrowth (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth or SIBO). Fibers that moderately ferment in the intestinal tract have been shown to create a therapeutic amount of short-chain fatty acids (called SCFAs).

These fatty acids act as fuel to build up healthy intestinal cells, feed “good bacteria,” and provide bulk for better movement of materials through the gut. A diet higher in digestible fiber also helps reduce the amount of potential “fuel” available for bad bacteria to use. This reduces the amount of damage that can potentially be done to the intestinal cells if these bacteria are allowed to proliferate unchecked.

Potential sources of fiber in your pet’s diet include:

  • Beet pulp
  • Rice bran
  • Flaxseed
  • Psyllium husk
  • Dried peas and beans
  • Barley
  • Oats/oat bran
  • Pectin
  • Fruit and vegetables (carrots, apples, etc.)

Your veterinarian can help you select the best possible combination of food(s) for your pet based on his or her particular situation. Each and every pet with EPI will respond differently and trial and error may be necessary to get your pet’s condition under some control. EPI is a chronic disease condition and you will need to constantly monitor your pet’s ability to maintain body weight.

Changes to the diet may need to be made over time; however, these adjustments should be made slowly and carefully. Even the simple addition of a single treat or table scrap could cause a set-back in your pet’s condition, so carefully consider every item you feed your pet in order to help him maintain control for life.

Image: Brent Hofacker / via Shutterstock
 

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Skijoring: A Combination of Cross Country Skiing and Dog Sledding

 

You had a great summer, with lots of activities that you and your dog were able to share, and fall was just a cooler extension of the fun. But now winter is beginning to blow its first frosty breaths, threatening to spoil the groove you and you dog have going.

The high energy activities don’t have to end with the first snowfall, however. If you live close to an area where you can cross country ski, and your dog is physically capable of spending long amounts of time in the snow, then you may have just found your new winter activity: Skijoring! 

What is Skijoring?

Skijoring, which translates to ski driving in Norwegian, is a combination of cross country skiing and dog sledding. The dog is outfitted with a dog sledding harness, which is attached by rope or towline to a skijoring harness worn by the human. While the human powers him or herself using skis and poles, the dog also pulls the human. This activity can be done with one dog or a team of dogs. As long as your dog weighs at least 35 pounds and has the energy, stamina and willingness to take part, all you will need is some basic training to get started.

And you don’t have to be an expert skier to skijor, and your dog doesn’t have to be a Northern breed dog like a Husky or Malamute. She doesn’t even have to be a big dog, because you will be providing some of the power of momentum. Your dog just needs to be healthy, full of energy, and motivated to run for the simple joy of running. (As with any sport or high energy activity, you should take your dog for a health check before beginning a new sport or routine.)

Which Dogs are Best for Skijoring?

Any dog that loves to run and meets the minimum weight requirement is a good candidate for skijoring. While small dogs are not necessarily excluded from recreational skijoring, they are not often seen participating because they are not able to add much strength or speed. But if you feel that your small dog would have fun skijoring with you, what’s the harm in letting him pretend to pull you with all of his strength? 

The breeds that do tend to be seen participating in this sport in greater numbers are the Northern breeds, those with heavy hair coats like Canadian Eskimos, Huskies, Malamutes, Samoyeds and Chows. But other breeds are well suited for this sport as well, pulling dogs such as American Bulldogs, mastiffs, American bull terriers and Staffordshire terriers, and high energy and fast running breeds like greyhounds, Labrador and Golden retrievers, German shepherds and German shorthaired pointers.

It is best if your dog already has a desire to pull and run and does well in cold weather, but with positive training and the right cold weather gear, almost any dog can become a class A skijorer.

It helps quite a bit if your dog is good at not being distracted, since you will not want to interfere with other skijorers, and you will not want your dog to drag you out of your planned route. The best skijoring dogs are those that can ignore the other dogs on the trail and move ahead of them with nary a glance. In competitions, in fact, points are deducted for dogs that are distracted or that interfere with others.

(If you are more interested in skijoring for competition than for simple recreation and fun, you may want to talk to some people who are experienced in the sport to learn more about the sport and about the breeds that are best suited for competitive skijoring.)

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Should Your Dog Join a Health Club?

If you are the typical full-time worker, you spend about 60 hours each week working, getting ready to work, and traveling to and from work. If you sleep a reasonable amount, there’s another 42-56 hours. That leaves roughly 52 hours to do everything else, including walking and exercising your dog (and yourself). Needless to say, it can be a challenge to make the time to stay physically fit, but with the rising numbers of canine and human obesity, it might be time to think seriously about joining a gym — a pet gym. 

Where Can You Find an Exercise Facility for Your Dog?

It will depend on where you live, but the increased need for a safe and comfortable exercise facility is driving the gradual growth of this business. If you live in an urban area, you will very likely be able to find a pet gym close to home. If you live in a suburban or more rural area, you will probably need to get in the car and travel a bit. There is also the option of enrolling your dog in a day class, so that he is getting his exercise while you are at work. For example, there are dog day care facilities that are specifically designed for group activities like walking, running and swimming. Some facilities are equipped with specialized swim centers to cater to dogs that love to swim or that don’t get the chance to do so on a regular basis. This form of exercise is not only fun for dogs, but is a perfect activity for older dogs, obese dogs, and dogs that have suffered previous injuries. The buoyancy of the water relieves the stress on arthritic joints as well as relieving pressure on the joints and bones due to excess weight. Even non-swimming breeds, like bulldogs and greyhounds, can take part as long as they are outfitted with a swim vest to hold their heads above water.  

A quick online search using your favorite search engine will turn up exercise centers in your area; some may be even closer than you think. In addition, check your local newspapers and community magazines for ads, and search your community phone books under the pet services classification.

Your veterinarian’s office is also a great source of information for recommended doggie day care centers. Pet trainers and local pet stores often will be familiar with some of the reputable services that are available as well. It might not hurt to ask around at the people gyms too — people who like to stay fit also tend to keep their pets fit too.

What You Should Look For in an Exercise Facility

Whether it is a facility that is made only for exercise, or it is a dog day care that includes a daily schedule for exercise, make sure to ask for a tour of the facility before you make a commitment to use their services. Get a good look at the equipment, the yards, the kennels, and any other place your dog will be spending time. Make sure that the people running the facility are accredited for recognizing and treating emergencies in animals and that they are very familiar with the physiology of a dog.

Are There Any Other Options?

If you cannot find an exercise facility in your area, you may consider creating your own exercise space. A treadmill (designed either for people or pets) is a perfect way to ensure that your dog is getting his daily walk, even when there are rainy, cold, or sweltering conditions that prevent outdoor exercise. There are also private dog walking and pet sitting services, many of whom offer extra playtime and walking during the day for dogs. Sitters and walkers, if requested to, can throw balls, play with rope toys, and take active pets for long runs.

Image: Taro the Shiba Inu / via Flickr

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Running and Staying Safe with Your Dog

Dogs and running almost go hand in hand. If you have an active dog that loves to run, this is a great opportunity for you to incorporate jogging or running into your exercise routine. Just as you take precautions and prepare for your own physical needs before you go out to exercise, you need to take into account all of the needs your dog might have, too.  

To start, whenever you begin a new health routine, especially intense exercise like running, you should check with your doctor to make sure you are in good health and there are no underlying conditions to be wary of. The same goes for your dog. Even if your dog appears strong and healthy and willing to leap tall buildings, you will need to make sure he is fit for a running routine — before you start.

Basic Precautions

Once your veterinarian has cleared your dog for running or jogging, start out by taking long walks. This will be best for both you and your dog, as your muscles begin building up the necessary energy requirements needed for exercise. Increase the distance and pace of your walk gradually, with short sprints every ten minutes or so. This will build your dog’s endurance while it toughens his food pads.

During the warm weather seasons, especially summer, when the days are hot, schedule your runs in the mornings or evenings, when the temperatures — and the ground — are cooler. If you do run in the daytime, try to run on softer surfaces, like grass and dirt, so your dog’s foot pads are not being burned. You can also consider specially designed running booties for dogs, which are made to protect the foot pads from heat and cold, as well as providing traction on slippery surfaces.

Be sure to rest periodically rather than running nonstop for extended periods, and don’t forget that a short walk before and after running will help you and your dog to warm up and cool down, lessening the stress on the muscles and joints.

Supplies for the Run

You will need to have enough water for both you and your dog. It does not have to be a backpack’s worth of supplies; in fact, your dog will probably do well to carry his own supplies in a dog pack that is harnessed to his body. A collapsible bowl, along with a couple of bottles of water can be packed into his backpack, and the added benefit is that dog packs are typically made with reflective strips on them, so that your dog will be visible to motorists. As an added precaution, if you are running at night, you might want to attach blinking lights to your dog’s backpack or collar to make him more visible to motorists.

And don’t forget to pack the dog waste bags! It’s not only common courtesy, in some cities and towns it’s the law.