When can I start running with my dog & how far can we go?

By October 15, 2014Northwood Notes

A question that I commonly hear from my clients is “how young is too young to start jogging with my dog”?  Running your dog too early can cause major orthopedic problems that can last a lifetime.  Waiting until your dog’s growth rate has slowed protects his joints and bones for years to come.

  • Small to medium breed dogs major growth spurt has slowed greatly by around 8 months of age.
  • Large to giant sized dogs take a little longer to develop and are typically ready to run with you by 1 1/2 years of age.

How about brachycephalic (smoosh-nosed) breeds?  These dogs have been bred to have breathing problems.  Even in their most relaxed state, sleeping, they have trouble breathing.  If your pet snores excessively, you most likely have a breed with upper airway disease.  Do not take your pet running with you (even for short distances) if you have a breed like a pug or bulldog.  Throwing the ball or playing fetch is ok, but stop once your pet begins panting heavily or seems distressed.


How far you can jog with your dog depends on many factors.

  • Temperature outside
    • Dogs overheat faster than we do due to their fur coat, added insulation in pets that are overweight & their inability to sweat & cool off the way that we do.
    • If the temperature + humidity outside exceeds 150, then it’s too hot to go out.  So if the temperature is 80 degrees and there is 75% humidity, your magic number is 155, which means it’s too hot for your pet to run!
  • Health Status
    • Is your pet overweight?  They can’t run as long as you can.  The extra insulation, coupled with the added pressure on their heart due to their obesity is not healthy.
    • Is your pet older?  Most large breed dogs have osteoarthritis or orthopedic issues.  Exercise is great, but take it easy.  Running is hard on the joints, which is where your pet hurts the most.  If your pet is arthritic, consider a joint supplement like glucosamine.

Get out there and do SOMETHING active!  Approximately 50% of pets are obese.  That’s not overweight, but obese.  We could all use the exercise & exercise in pets not only makes them physically healthier, but also cuts down on the problem behaviors that boredom brings along with it.


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