Great Time of Year to Explore the Outdoors!

Exercising with your best friend is a great way to strengthen your bond and to get some cardiovascular in at the same time. While canine/human workouts/exercising can be fun, they can also be dangerous if proper safety precautions are not taken, both in summer and winter. The following tips can ensure that you both are safe:

Before exercising with your dog: Dogs should be evaluated by a veterinarian before starting a vigorous workout/exercise program. The dog’s age is a consideration. Long-distance workouts/exercise routines are not good for young and developing dogs’ bone structures, and dogs that are too old may need to take it easy as well.

Consider environmental factor: In winter, a sweater/coat and/or booties may be needed. In the summer, timing needs to be adjusted to early, early mornings or in the late evening when the temperature is low. Arizona summers can result in heat stroke, and hot pavement can burn a dog’s feet. In Arizona it is a good practice to have “booties” for your dog in both hot and cold weather. They do get used to them.

Keep your dog to one side of you the entire time: It is essential that you train your dog to stick to one side of you and not to dart in front while exercising beside you. This could cause you to trip, which can result in injury to both of you.

Do not tie the leash to your wrist: This could cause injury to you or your dog if he/she makes an unexpected jerk. Consider a hands-free leash, such as Cesar Milan’s dog walking utility belt for long-distance walks, biking, or hikes.

Stay hydrated: In Arizona you should always carry water while exercising with your dog. This is especially crucial during the hot Arizona summers, as well as coming in handy for an injury, cut, or rinsing off.

After your workout/exercise routine: Check your dog’s feet for cuts, scrapes, or signs of worn pads. If you worked out in a grassy or woodsy area, check his/her fur for burrs, ticks, and other foreign objects. Consider washing the feet if chemical or debris was walked through. Make sure to give your dog plenty of water to replenish fluids lost during the workout. Allow your dog to rest properly in between exercise routines.

Cold temperatures/snow: Pets with diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, or hormonal imbalances (such as Cushing’s disease) may have a harder time regulating their body temperature and may be more susceptible to problems from temperature extremes. The same goes for very young and very old pets.

Inside Dangers: Make sure your house is properly pet-proofed. Use space heaters with caution around pets, because they can cause burns or they can be knocked over, potentially starting a fire. Check your furnace and install carbon monoxide detectors for safety.

Excerpts from Cesar Millan and Dr. Karen Becker and

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