Are you taking risks with the health and well-being of your dog by making a weekend warrior of him?
What is a weekend warrior? If you are a runner or similar sporadic fitness lover then you will understand this term very well. With our professional lives taking us increasingly down the route of computer use or similar static lifestyles we try to get out and do as much exercise as possible on those free days. We literally become outdoor warriors on the weekend yet after a week of sedate living this can put a shocking amount of strain on our bodies.
Similarly, we expect our beloved dogs to stay home all week and recline, leaving them ready for miles of hiking on the weekend. Sadly, this often leads to injury.
Think of it this way when a muscle is relaxed it will behave a certain way. This behaviour becomes a habit for the muscle because for 5 days a week it is in a very specific position of relaxation. To add too much unexpected activity to the muscle, or joints, too quickly will cause a very specific type of pressure. Muscles can stiffen, bruise or even tear when they are suddenly involved in heavy activity which they are unused to.
Just as you would build your own body up from the couch to 5k, 10k, half marathon and so on, so should your dog’s body be given the same respect and chance to prepare for long hard stretches of exercise or your dog may end up injured and needlessly hurting.
As dog owners we all need to remember that exceeding our dogs’ fitness levels can cause problems including:
Muscle soreness, strains and tears
Overuse injuries and acute arthritic flare-ups
Increased risk of serious ligament and tendon injuries
So how do we avoid making weekend warriors out of our faithful friends?
As a rule, it is important to build your dog up gradually to longer walks. This is particularly important if they're older or carrying some extra weight which can put strain on their joints. To expose weaker joints to excess exercise, when there is not suitable muscle mass already built-up gradually to support them, is cruel and will be detrimental to your dog's health.
Don’t expect too much from your dog. The canine species is a resilient one and will faithfully carry on through exhaustion and even pain. If your dog is showing signs that they are struggling they have probably been flagging for a while. Watch out for the heat! Although it has been a mix of hot and cold weather this summer, the sun can pop up anytime.
Do not ever risk being in the position of being miles from home with a hot dog and no choice but to walk him back, this could be fatal. Take plenty of water for your dog and even consider a cooling dog coat.
So if you fancy a long walk this weekend don't forget to consider your faithful friends capacity before making that decision and always make sure they have healthy joints by using a proven glucosamine supplementas part of their healthy diet . You may be better cutting the hiking short in favour of a shorter ramble with a long leisurely pub or tearoom break instead.