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Animal Doctor Articles Weekly on October 22, 2013

Question

Please write something in your column about dog owners who like to take their dogs along when they go running. Some dogs appear very fit and able to keep up, but all too often I see dogs, even puppies, who seem to be in distress because they can't keep up with their owners or have been asked to run too far in hot weather. I hate to see these animals being dragged by the collar on a leash as they struggle to keep up with their athletic owners. How does a responsible pet owner judge how far and how fast he can ask a dog to go?

Oct 22, 2013

Answer

I appreciate your concern. All dogs accompanying their jogging/running human companions should be first given time to sniff, mark and evacuate. They should be mature (not puppies), in good physical condition and show no signs of difficulty in keeping pace. Older dogs, those with pushed-in pug faces and all dogs in hot and humid weather may quickly become compromised and experience heat stress and even heat stroke, which is an emergency. A harness -- rather than a collar -- is essential when dogs tend to pull on a leash. Letting trained dogs stop by themselves and then catch up is fine if in a safe off-leash area.

All dogs need to be carefully monitored and provided with drinking water or even a cooling evaporative wet-shirt on long runs. Hot pavement can be an additional problem.

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