How Daily Walks Change When Your Dog Has Osteoarthritis

“Slower, Shorter, Sadder” is the title of a study of English dog owners who describe how their walks have changed after a diagnosis of osteoarthritis in their dogs.  The development of canine osteoarthritis can lead to big changes in dog walking routines.

Most of the owners surveyed reported that before the diagnosis, walking distance, speed, and location were chosen to satisfy the needs and enjoyment of both the people and their dogs.  After the diagnosis, walks became slower, shorter, and limited to locations that owners perceived to be easy on their dogs’ joints.

Many of these dedicated dog owners reported a sense of guilt if they went for additional walks without their dogs, and they also felt less enjoyment walking without their dogs.  Less dog walking also led to an overall reduction in exercise for the humans as well.

The authors of the study note that dog walks can be divided into the categories of functional and leisure.  While functional walks were still a necessity, the quality of leisure walks changed once a dog developed osteoarthritis.

In some cases, leisure walks that involved getting in and out of cars were no longer taken.  In other cases, owners became more aware of things to avoid, like steps and rugged terrain.  Some tried to maintain walking routines by picking up their dogs or putting them in wheeled carts.

Human health advocates often recommend dog ownership and dog walking as a way for us to get more exercise, but as the authors point out, we may need to seek out other forms of exercise when the health of our dogs changes.


Dog Walking Safety Tips from the AVMA

Taking your dog for a walk is a great way for you and your pet to enjoy quality time together and get in some healthy exercise.  Seems like a simple activity, but the American Veterinary Medical Association reminds dog owners to keep their best friend’s safety and well-being in mind when going on walks.

Here are a few of their best dog walking safety tips, but be sure to click HERE for the full story.

  • Talk to your veterinarian before starting a new exercise program for your pet to ensure that he is healthy enough for added physical activity.
  • Make sure your dog is well-trained to walk on a leash and remember to obey all local leash laws and pick up after she does her business.
  • Allow your dog to take “sniff breaks” so that he can fully enjoy his outdoor adventure.

  • Avoid walks in the coldest part of the day in winter and the hottest part of the day in summer. Learn the signs of hypothermia and heatstroke in dogs and protect their paws from ice in the winter and hot pavement in the summer.
  • If your dog is new to walks, build up gradually to one or two 15-minute brisk walks per day, allowing time for cool down and recovery.
  • Monitor your dog for unusual tiredness, lameness, or difficulty breathing during walks. Talk to your veterinarian about possible joint or breathing problems, especially if you own a breed prone to conditions like hip dysplasia or brachycephaly.

Enjoy your walks together!


Tips for Great Fall Hikes With Your Dog

Fall can be a great time to set out on outdoor adventures with your dog.  The weather is crisp and cool to keep you and your dog comfortable, and all that beautiful fall foliage is definitely an added benefit.

We’ve gathered some of the best fall hiking tips for dog owners.  Keep in mind that many experts recommend keeping your dog on leash at all times for her safety, so go off leash with caution.

Check out these helpful tips and enjoy the great outdoors with your best friend!

  • A walk in the woods, even in fall, means that your dog could be vulnerable to flea and tick bites. Use a deterrent and check your dog for ticks after a hike.
  • Consider using a harness specifically designed for hiking or running. Experts report that v-neck harnesses distribute force evenly to keep you and your dog steady.  Some also have a handle on the back so you can quickly grab your dog in an emergency.

  • While it may not be as hot as summer, your dog still needs plenty of fresh clean water to stay hydrated on a fall hike. Bring water and a collapsible bowl along with you on hikes.
  • Challenging uphill trails can lead to some great views of fall foliage, but long distance/high elevation hikes are not for all dogs…or all people. Know the level of difficulty before you set off on a hike.

  • Sometimes the weather can change quickly in the fall. Dress in layers and consider a jacket and booties for your dog in case the weather gets nasty.  Booties or paw pad balm are always a good idea for rugged trail hikes.


It’s National Walk Your Dog Week!

October 1-7 is National Walk Your Dog Week, an event designed to raise awareness about the importance of regular exercise for your dog’s health.

According to the official website, many dogs (and their humans) do not get enough exercise, which can lead to health problems like obesity as well as behavioral problems that arise from boredom and separation anxiety.

You can take the pledge to walk your dog for at least 30 minutes every day for one week.  The folks at National Walk Your Dog Week want to hear from dog owners who have taken up this challenge.  Chances are both you and your dog will be feeling better!


How Walking Your Dog Improves Health and Well-Being

Many dog owners enjoy daily walks with their dogs, and for good reason.  Walking your dog is a great way for you and your dog to get exercise, enjoy your time together, and meet up with other people and their dogs.

But did you know that nearly 40% of all dog owners rarely or never walk their dogs?  There are lots of reasons for this.  Many owners simply let their dogs out in the yard.  People who work long hours often hire dog walkers.  Some owners of small dogs have trained them to do their business inside.

An exercise physiologist was interested to see if she could “trick” dog owners into walking their dogs.  The New York Times summarized her interesting study.

She invited a group of dog owners who said they seldom walked their dogs to a special dog obedience class.  They were told the class was designed to improve their dogs’ on-leash behavior, but it was really done to monitor the humans’ activity!

Half of the participants were enrolled in the class and half were wait-listed.  The people taking the class were asked to record their dogs’ activity outside of class, but the researchers were really monitoring the people.

Results showed that the class participants did end up walking their dogs for a few minutes more per week than those not in the class, but not as much as the researchers were hoping to see.

The class participants did report feeling closer to their dogs and happier about their dogs’ behavior, confirming that going for walks is a great way to improve the bond with your dog.