Why Run With Your Dog?

Personal training for dogs. You’re kidding, right? Actually, no, we’re not. Research suggests up to 40% of our dogs are overweight, and they suffer from the same health complications that overweight people do. Veterinarians (including myself) are becoming more and more concerned about the increase in joint pain, heart disease and other obesity related illnesses in dogs. Hence, Pooch to 5k. Dogs can’t lift weights, or use the gym. If you’re going to increase their fat burning, you need to increase the intensity of their exercise. This means that a daily stroll just won’t cut it any more, it’s too laid back. The Pooch to 5k program will help you get your dog from doing nothing much to comfortably running 5km, over a period of 12 weeks.

Because you’ll be running with your dog, you’ll also get a great workout three times a week, as you train yourself to run 5km. Why not subscribe to our dog health and fitness newsletter and grab your dog, and you’re ready to go!

Jun
21

Beware the Brachycephalic Running Buddy

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bulldogShort nosed breeds of dog, like this gorgeous British Bulldog, are popular companions, but the shape of their head and neck makes them totally unsuitable as running buddies. Some other breeds that fall into this category include Boxers, Staffordshire Bull Terriers, Pugs and French Bulldogs. They’re known as brachycephalic breeds – “brachy” meaning “shortened” and “cephalic” meaning “head”.  There are degrees of brachycephalic-ness, for want of a better word – some Staffies and Boxers have a longer nose than others and may be less adversely affected by the shape of their head but owners still need to take a great deal of care with them.

The problem with the short head is that it has adverse effects on a dog’s respiratory tract. Their nostrils are usually narrower and their soft palate is longer than normal which can block the entrance to their windpipe. There are small pouches in the larynx called laryngeal saccules which, in a brachycephalic dog, are everted which means they stick out into the larynx. This means that there are many obstructions that get in the way of air reaching the windpipe and to top it all off, in these breeds the windpipe is often narrower than normal.

The result is that breathing is hard work for these dogs. It’s hard to get enough air into their lungs and they often snore and snort. Even the slightest exercise can leave them struggling for breath.  The biggest risk is heat stroke. A dog relies on panting to evaporate saliva and keep their body temperature down. If there isn’t much air flow to cause evaporation, there is the risk of hyperthermia and heat stroke. There have been many cases of Bulldogs dying of heat stroke after only a short walk in warm weather. A nearby vet clinic recently had to treat a Staffie after he seriously overheated while going for a walk last summer.

If you’re looking for a running buddy, don’t choose a brachycephalic breed. If you have one of these dogs, don’t take him running. To make breathing easier for him, keep him lean as obesity can make his symptoms worse. Don’t walk him on a collar because if he pulls, that will further narrow his airways and he needs all the space he can get in there. Some dogs are candidates for surgery to widen the nostrils and reduce the size of the soft palate, but this isn’t likely to turn them into a runner, it will just make life more comfortable for them.

Categories : Dog Breeds, Dog Health

3 Comments

1

My husband and I have recently adopted a 1-year-old Boxer x Staffie (she might have some APBT in the mix too). She snores and does start to pant quite quickly during exercise.

Luna really seems to LOVE running. She just rips around like crazy when she’s free in the yard or another enclosed area. I take her for a 1 hour walk every day and I was hoping to start running with her. My husband already has taken her on a few jogs. We had no idea that running could actually be dangerous for her.

I’m wondering if you would maintain the same advice (to not take a brachycephalic breed running) in a very mild climate. The average high in the hottest month of the year here is only 22.2 C and the average low in the coldest month is 0.8 C.

Is it safe to try out the Pooch to 5K program with her, making sure to stop if she seems at all uncomfortable? However, I can see that it could be difficult to determine whether or not she is uncomfortable before she is very overheated.

I would appreciate your suggestions on this.

Thanks!

2

If Luna snores and pants quickly during exercise, it’s likely that she has some of the conditions that short nosed breeds have such as elongated patella. If it’s mild, you can sure try the Pooch to 5k program and if she’s uncomfortable, call it a day. The potential problem is that if Luna loves running, she may keep going even when she shouldn’t. This is where you need to be very familiar with the symptoms of overheating and stop her before she becomes unwell. http://www.poochto5k.com/heat-stress.html

3

I’m glad attention is brought to this issue. Our Boston Terrier would follow my fiance anywhere, but is absolutely not to be a running buddy. Our lab will gladly run anywhere with us.

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