Spring is here, and nicer weather just around the corner. This week we look at a few of the potential dangers for your pet that crop up with the new season. We also take a closer look at exercise, a much needed part of your dogs’ health requirements – but just like ourselves, we need to do it right! Too much, too little, genetically predisposed to exercise intolerance? See where your dog fits in, and set them up for success! And as a bonus – how to train your dog to take pills willingly, yes it IS possible!
Tired of fighting with your dog? Fido wise to the new liver pate? There is a better way! Check out this article from Laura VanArendonk Baugh CPDT-KA KPACTP. She goes over how to train your dog to accept treats simply when offered. Sound too good to be true? Not so! Training goes a long way. As with any new skill, repetition, and reward are key. Doing give up, your dog too, can be a pill taking superstar!
While most of us associate spring with longer days and warmer weather, the change of season can mean big trouble for your cat or dog. Pets who have been cooped up all winter are suddenly more susceptible to environmental irritants, exposure to toxic chemicals and overexertion, not to mention activity-related injuries, parasitic diseases and chance encounters with critters that don’t have their best interests in mind.
To help you keep your pet safe this season, here are the top 20 springtime dangers to look out for and how to keep your pet happy and healthy as the weather warms up
Dogs need regular exercise, just like people. If your dog isn’t getting enough physical activity, he may put on too much weight, become bored or frustrated, or release his pent-up energy in undesirable ways.
Keep in mind that individual dogs have different needs. Your dog’s age, breed, size, and health status will affect how much exercise they need. For example, a growing puppy will generally require more exercise than an older dog.
Here are six common signs that your dog may not be getting enough exercise, as well as tips on how to get your dog moving.
- Weight Gain
- Destructive Behavior
- Becoming Withdrawn
- Stiffness or Lack of Endurance
- Barking and Whining
The key to introducing exercise is to take it slow and easy. Slowly build up to each activity and let the pet guide how much they can do while monitoring for any aches and pains after a new activity. If you try turn your couch potato dog into a weekend warrior overnight, you run the risk of injury.
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Exercise-Induced Collapse (EIC) is an autosomal recessive genetic disorder causing affected dogs to suffer from a loss of muscle control following periods of extreme exercise. Typically, an affected dog begins to show symptoms between 5 months and 3 years of age, usually around the age that more intensive training begins.
EIC episodes generally occur after 5-25 minutes of extreme exercise. Not all types of exercise can induce an attack; generally the dog must be actively running and excited for an extended period of time. The attacks often begin with rocking, followed by the hind limbs becoming weak and giving out. The severity of these attacks ranges between different dogs; some will continue to attempt to retrieve, dragging their hind legs along, and other will be totally unable to move, acting disoriented. These attacks usually only last about 5-25 minutes, however, in some extreme cases, dogs have died immediately following an EIC attack.
Dogs with Exercise-Induced Collapse can still lead full lives. However, it is important for dog owners to be familiar with what types of activities a dog can participate in and what types of games may trigger an episode.
Because EIC is a recessive disorder, a dog must have two copies of the mutation in order for the disease to manifest. This means that a dog can have one copy of the mutation and not experience any signs or symptoms of EIC; this dog would be known as a carrier. The carrier can then pass on either the normal gene or the mutated gene to any offspring. If two carriers are bred, a dog could potentially receive the mutated gene from each parent and be affected by EIC.
Testing is available relevant to the following breeds: Boykin Spaniel, Chesapeake Bay Retriever, Curly-Coated Retriever, German Wirehaired Pointer, Labrador Retriever, and Pembroke Welsh Corgi.
Exercise provides your dog with a myriad of physical and mental benefits. It keeps joints limber and promotes good range of motion, maintains muscle mass, which can help prevent injury, and helps to maintain cardiovascular health, decrease obesity, or maintain appropriate weight. Daily exercise can strengthen your relationship and reinforce your dog’s need for routine. One of the reasons dogs and humans get along so well is that we both appreciate structure in our respective worlds. Regular exercise provides a day-to-day predictability that dogs truly appreciate, simply because it is their nature.
However, this isn’t an invitation to overwork your dog. Moderation is key. Much of the time it is not the length of time performing the task, it is the intensity and impact of the activity that matters.Walking is much less likely to trigger distress in a dog with heart disease compared with running, jumping, or hard play.
If you’d like to start your dog on an exercise regimen or just want to make sure your current one is sensible, talk with your dog’s vet to create an individualized exercise plan—especially if your dog has health conditions, is old or young, or is a breed that doesn’t tolerate intense exercise very well.
Whether you and your dog will be walking around the block or taking up a new sport, here the best tips for getting conditioned and avoiding injury.
— Talk to your veterinarian about your plans. They can advise you about whether your dog is ready for certain activities. For instance, large or giant breeds shouldn’t run on hard surfaces until their growth plates close, usually at 10 to 24 months.
— Choose an activity that’s appropriate for your dog. Certain breeds are more suited to specific activities.
— Preventing injury is critical. Know the types of injuries commonly seen in your dog’s breed or body type. Cranial cruciate ligament ruptures are common in couch-potato Labrador retrievers. Herding and agility dogs tend to suffer ligament damage because they change direction frequently. Flat-coated retrievers can be prone to patellar luxation. German shepherds can have spinal problems. Search www.pubmed.org for medical problems affecting specific breeds.
— Balance is a key factor in conditioning. Your dog (and you) should be able to adjust as needed to changes in direction or ground surfaces. Changing direction, both ways, as you jog or run is a good way to improve balance. So is walking over cavaletti rails (a series of obstacles set at certain heights or distances) or on a trampoline if you have access to one. If you teach your dog tricks or movements such as spinning or figure eights, he should learn to perform them in both directions.
— Rest is critical. Downtime limits fatigue and prevents injuries from overuse. The body needs rest to repair tissues and replace energy.
Signs you’ve done too much, too fast:
- Wear-and-Tear on Paw Pads
- Sore Muscles
- Heat Sickness
- Joint Injury
- Behavioral Changes
How to Avoid Having a Canine Weekend Warrior
There are only two choices for a dog owner to avoid turning their pet into a weekend warrior. First, the pet should be exercised daily and included in the exercise program should be some high intensity activity at least 2 times per week. Short duration, slow walks are fine, but the pet handler should mix in some sprints or other activities to make sure the dog’s muscles and other soft tissues are taxed in order to generate a growth response. This will condition the dog to be able to withstand the rigors of the active weekends. If the family is too busy to do this, they should consider hiring a canine fitness trainer or dog runner.
For those families that simply can’t exercise their dogs during the week, then the only alternative is to limit the dog’s activity on the weekends to lower intensity, short duration activities. This is a poor choice as it establishes the pattern of minimal exercise for the dog. However, in the short term, it will at least help to prevent the dog from discomfort and injury.