Injury Prevention for Your Canine Companion

By Rick Morris

Keeping your body, muscles and joints healthy and injury free is almost certainly one your primary concerns when running. After all, you can’t enjoy your daily run when you are laid up with an injury or medical issue. Make sure you provide your canine companion with the same injury prevention precautions you take for yourself. Both you and your pup will enjoy an injury free running life. Here are just a few tips for injury prevention for your canine companion.

Watch the Weather

You’re accustomed to running in all types of weather. When it gets to hot you can peel off a layer. When it’s cold or wet you throw on a layer or two. Your dog doesn’t have that luxury. Your best friend can easily become overheated when running in hot weather and some shorter hair dogs can become too cold in low temperature or wet weather. Pay attention to the weather conditions and adjust your run with your canine companion accordingly.

Puppy Precautions

There’s nothing better in the world than a new puppy. And you probably can’t wait to get your new pup out on the trail for some running. Be a bit cautious here. You wouldn’t take a toddler out for a 5 mile run, would you? Of course not. A very young child has not developed their mind, muscles or bones to the point that they can safely run like that. A new puppy has the same issues. Short exercise sessions are OK for very young dogs, but don’t take your new best friend on any extended outings until they are nearly full grown or between 9 and 14 months, depending upon the breed.

Dog Years

Puppies aren’t the only dogs that require special attention. Older dogs also need some running adjustments. Don’t forget about dog years. Your 10 year old canine companion is like you when you hit 70. Don’t push your aging best friend too hard. Cut back on the distance and intensity of their runs and let them enter their masters running years with some dignity.

Puppy Steps

Do you remember your very first run? You probably struggled from the first steps and had a hard time completing a mile. Don’t expect your canine companion to have a built in high level of fitness. You must train your best friend just like you trained yourself. Start off slowly with short sessions and gradually build up the intensity and distance as your dog becomes fitter.

One Hour Rule

Remember that one hour rule your mother always insisted upon. You know, the one where you weren’t supposed to go swimming for at least one hour after eating a meal. There is also a one hour rule for your best friend. Dogs, especially larger breeds, are prone to a really nasty condition called gastric torsion or twisted stomach.  When their stomach is filled with food it is more likely to roll over and twist upon itself resulting in very serious health consequences. So keep your canine running companion safe. Don’t let them run or play for at least one hour after eating.

Lap it Up

You always carry your water bottle for that much needed hydration. Don’t forget your canine companion. Carry an extra water bottle and some sort of small bowl for your best friend to get a drink. They need to stay hydrated just as you do.

Tender Terrain

All dogs, but especially dogs not used to running on hard asphalt or rough trails, can end up with sore or damaged pads on their paws. Your canine companion needs to gradually build up the toughness of their pads, just as you would have to build up the toughness of the soles of your feet if you began barefoot running. So gradually increase the distance of your best friends runs as their pads toughen up. And always be careful of thorns, sharp rocks and other dangerous trail conditions when running with your best friend.

Slip Ups

You are already very aware of the dangers to yourself when running on ice or snow. Just one slip and you can go head over teakettles and end up with an injury. Your canine companion probably won’t fall far after a slip on the ice since they are already close to the ground. But, they can end up twisting joint or straining a tendon due to a slip. So slow down and let your best friend safely tread their own way over those slippery spots.