Your vet or canine physical therapist can help to manage an injury after it occurs but prevention is better than cure. Weight management, stretching and adequate warm ups from a young age are a crucial element of maintaining your dogs mobility and reducing the risk of them getting hurt.
Many dog owners will want to start running with their pet from a very young age. However, dogs should not start intense training routines until the growth plates in their legs are fully closed. This is usually around 14 months but varies depending on breed. Ask your veterinarian when you should start running with your pup and until you have the okay from them, stick to low intensity exercises. After all, you want your running buddy to be out exercising with you for a long time.
Overweight dogs are more prone to problems and keeping your canine running buddy lean is a very important aspect of avoiding injury. It makes sense; if he is overweight, there is more impact on his joints with each step and more potential damage to his joints if he turns quickly.
The warm up is not only an essential aspect of improving performance, but will also significantly reduce the chance of injury because gentle exercise of the muscles will prime them for further activity. A gentle warm up of 5-10 minutes is a good idea for both you and your dog.
Stretching can be useful to increase your dog’s flexibility, reducing the chance of injury and improving his performance. Stretches between 15 and 30 seconds are generally considered more effective than stretches of shorter duration. In the human world, there is some controversy as to the benefits of pre-exercise stretching but it’s fair to say that you should warm up your dog’s muscles before he stretches.
What if the worst should happen and your dog pulls up from a run lame? First port of call is your dog’s health professional. Once you have a diagnosis, you’ll be able to figure out how to get him back on track. It’s important that you follow your dog’s health professional’s advice closely, even if he looks like he is raring to go. Many people have developed a more severe injury after not properly looking after a minor one, and dogs aren’t any different. Resist the temptation to do too much too soon, in spite of those big brown eyes looking at you. He’ll be much better off in the long term.