Owners should exercise with their dogs, say researchers at Kansas State University, since doing so is an ideal way to fight obesity. Ideally, they added, owners should head outside twice with their pup, giving larger and working dogs a tougher workout than smaller and toy breeds. If you do regularly go for a run, frisbee throwing game, or even a winter walk with your pooch, you may have come home a little worse for wear. Depending on the weather and visibility, a sprained ankle or another type of injury may be more than a rare occurrence for you as a dog owner. How can you avoid injuries and ensure that you and Fido have all the exercise you need to lead a long and healthy life?
What Are Common Injury Risks When You’re Walking Fido?
Some of the most common injuries that occur when you’re running or walking outdoors include sprains and muscle injuries, sometimes as the result of falls. Level changes in the ground can lead you to twist or hurt an ankle or knee. It is therefore vital to keep your eye on the road or surface ahead to ensure there are no steps, cracks or level changes that can cause you to trip or fall. Other risks for falls include snow (since during heavy snowfall, snow can hide gaps or holds on the road), slippery surfaces and steps. Choose your route carefully, and if the surface becomes slippery because of snow or ice, head home quickly.
Injury Risks You Can Share With Your Dog
Some workout risks are common to both dog owners and their pooches. These include overheating, frostbite and dehydration. In the summer, choose shady hours for your workout – early in the day, or in the evening after the sun has set. In the winter, if you find that the weather or wind is too chilly to withstand for long, make it a short walk, or think of a fun indoor workout for both – including a hide-and-seek game and indoor fetch. Always take frequent water breaks while you’re exercising, making sure to drink water before (not only during) your workout.
Warm-Ups Are Key
You can also avoid muscle strains and injuries by warming up before you leave home. Spending around 15 minutes prior to leaving to stretch and take part in warm-up exercise (including marching in place, lifting the knees, moving arms from side to side, and doing push-ups) can help prevent injury. A personal vibrating roller can warm up muscles and soothe them after your walk or run. A roller can be particularly useful in the cold weather, and it can also provide pain relief if you have had an intense workout outside with Fido. Just apply it to areas like the neck, back and shoulders to soothe and calm muscles.
Wearing The Right Workout Gear
If your dog is an adult who is used to running and jogging, or any high-impact sport is your thing, ensure your workout gear supports your feet and joints well. Researchers at Staffordshire in the UK have found that almost 60% of all injuries in recreational athletes (triathletes, to be specific) were caused by running. The list of injuries includes plantar fasciitis (from wearing shoes without the required support), tendinitis (which can happen if your shoe does not have the right arch) and shin splints (which can occur when you use shoes that cause the feet to move inward). Investing in recommended, quality shoes is particularly important, so ensure your gear is specifically designed for the sport you are practicing with your dog.
Exercising with your dog will do plenty to keep you both heart healthy and at an ideal weight. As is the case with all physical activity, however, there are risks every time you head outside. Keep falls at bay by choosing safe routes, dress appropriately for your workout, and don’t forget to warm up before you leave.