Neuse River Golden Retiever Rescue
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Neuse River Golden Retiever Rescue

Run Forest Run.....

by User Not Found | May 11, 2013

It’s been an exciting couple of weeks here golden retrievers plus fire ants, epic fail, but more on that later.  Today I was looking at the NRGRR web site and saw all the puppies!  I was exhausted just looking at their pictures!  Last weekend I spent the weekend with only 4 ofMadge’s puppies and I was wiped out.  Apparently so were they, just the way I like them =) 

This is my buddy Onyx who fell asleep in my lap.....

Puppies are like kids, always ready to go and need lots of exercise and interaction to wear themselves out.  It got me thinking about the importance of choosing a dog and matching it with your lifestyle and energy level.  I’m not a runner.  I used to run, after a ball, but these days, I’m not running unless someone is chasing me with something like a weapon.  I know plenty of runners….and good for them! I say as I drive by eating my ice cream in the hot summer =)  But dogs, for the most part can make great running buddies.  For example, you don’t want to run with a bulldog.  Their snouts are much too short for heavy breathing and they aren’t able to regulate their body temperature very well.  Golden Retrievers can be great running partners, have you ever met one that said “no” to a walk?  It’s important, that before you start running with your pup, you have them examined by a vet to be sure they are in good physical condition and can handle the physical strain of running.  The exam will likely involve checking hips, shoulders, knees, (knees and toes!) weight and general body condition.  Based on this assessment, the vet can help you develop a gradual introduction to a jogging routine.  

Dogs have growth plates, just like humans, which are soft areas located near the end of bones.  Ironically, these "growth plates on bones" are responsible for "growth of bones"….gosh Katie, science isn't that hard.  They are much softer than other parts of the bone and therefore more prone to injury.  Normally, as your dog gets older, these plates fuse, but when this happens depends on the size of the dog.  For most dogs, it’s around a year but for large breed dogs, it can be a year and a half or so since they mature more slowly.  Check with your vet about your particular dog.  Because of these plates and the rate of bone growth, its not generally safe to start a running routine earlier than 8 months of age. Why 8 months?  At this point, most of the bones are done growing so injuries that may occur won’t be as devastating.  Feel like risking it because that puppy is driving you nuts?  Growth plate fractures are nothing to mess with unless you want your dog to have a peg leg and sing Yo Ho!  The bone with a growth plate fracture can actually end up causing one bone to be shorter than the other resulting in a limp or abnormal gait.  If the fracture occurs where there are two bones (like in your arm or a dog’s front limb), if one bone’s plate is ok and the other is fractured, the bone can actually twist. Ouch!  Now that's a painful problem.

Not to worry!  Prior to 8 months of age, or when teaching an old dog new tricks, before you start running with your dog, you can work on socialization and training!  This is a great time to introduce your pup to all the weird things in the world, like bikes, strollers, motorcycles, cars and other dogs.  Again, not a runner, but something tells me a dog that is deathly afraid of this stuff might make for a less than enjoyable running experience.  You’ll likely be making your way to the store to purchase a helmet and knee and elbow pads.  Take your pup to class, teach them to heel so that they are running next to you and not in front of you.  Nothing makes me crazier than seeing a dog and its owner coming toward me with one of those retractable leashes doing the “reach and grab” and trying to reel them back in.  They have little to no control over their dog with one of those on, all the more reason to have show-off your perfectly well-mannered golden right by your side =)

Once you have the big ok to begin jogging, take your time building up mileage and speed.  Be conscientious of weather conditions and food and water consumption.  Don’t feed your pup before this kind of strenuous activity.  A large meal followed by exercise can cause GDV, otherwise known as Bloat which is a life-threatening condition.  Water is ok, but you shouldn’t let them gulp a bunch at a time for the same reason.  Most concerning, especially here in North Carolina is the heat.  Dogs are really prone to heat exhaustion, (you try running in a fur coat!) and their body temperature can rise to 105 degrees Fahrenheit or more.  You should watch for signs of heat exhaustion like heavy panting, weakness, confusion, vomiting or diarrhea.  Things can take a turn for the worse quickly, so please seek treatment.  Also be mindful of the hot pavement, air temperatures of 90 degrees can cause the pavement to reach 140 degrees as early as 10am.  I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that’s freakin hot and will cause severe burns to your dog's pads.  Whether you are walking or running, pad injuries for a dog are extremely painful, so keep it short if needed and only exercise during cooler parts of the day.  Check their pads like you check your tires, for “excessive wear”.  Boots aren’t ideal since dogs cool off by “sweating” thru their feet.  But you can use stuff like bag balm to help with cracking and drying, especially in the winter.  While your down there, keep those nails and hair trimmed too.

And last but not least, don’t forget Fido when you stretch and ease your aches and pains.  Talk with your vet about joint supplements like Fish Oils and Glucosamine, etc.  Asphalt is hard on hips and joints, so try grass and dirt surfaces.  Also keep your dog lean, (I know it’s like I’ve never said that before!) because extra weight is harder on their joints.  During your cool down phase, when it’s time to just cuddle on the floor, work on passive range of motion exercises (PROM) to maintain flexibility and mobility.  You can do some serious bonding here!

Have fun, be safe and smart and be sure to wave to me as you run by =)



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