Spring has sprung in Portland! With warmer temperatures and longer days, many people and their pooches are taking the opportunity to get out for longer walks and more activities.
Most of our pets seem to have no problems going from laying on the couch to a romp through the woods or racing around at the dog park. However, if your dog doesn’t get much activity over the winter or if they tend to be pretty sedentary during the week, you may want to consider a gradual ramp up of their activity to build strength and endurance. Easing them into a more active lifestyle will allow their muscles, bones, tendons, ligaments, heart, and lungs to get stronger and more accustomed to doing more vigorous exercise.
Just like people, dogs that are out of shape can be more prone to injuries or health issues and most would benefit from a controlled conditioning period before engaging in athletic activities. Depending on your dog’s current level of activity and fitness, it might just take a few weeks or as long as several months to get them well-conditioned for vigorous activity.
If your dog is a total couch potato and gets very little exercise or if you are uncertain if your dog is healthy enough for a specific activity or sport, please have them evaluated by a veterinarian before beginning a new exercise program.
A pre-exercise evaluation would involve a complete history and physical exam to evaluate your dog’s general health status, listening to their heart and lungs to screen for obvious cardiovascular or respiratory disease, and a thorough orthopedic evaluation to make sure their bones and joints are comfortable and stable enough to take on the activity you have planned. Depending on your dog’s history, health status, and exam findings, your vet may recommend additional tests.
If you would like your dog evaluated before hitting the trails this spring or if you are looking for advice on how to safely increase your dog’s activity, please schedule an appointment with your Primary Care Veterinarian.