Now that the weather is warming, more and more people are jogging to White Rock Lake or down Swiss Avenue. You’ve probably noticed more dogs running, too. Jogging can be great exercise for your pet, but there are some common-sense precautions you should consider before hitting the paths with your four-footed friend.

Be sure you gradually build your dog’s stamina before covering too much ground. You may be able to jog three miles without trouble, but remember that it took a while to reach that point. The same is true with your dog, especially if he has been a couch potato this winter. Dogs can pull muscles, get cramps and suffer from heat exhaustion, just like you.

Exercise endurance depends upon your dog’s age, breed, size and overall health. A Labrador may enjoy a 5K run, while a basset hound may think a walk to the mailbox is enough!

Also, consider your jogging surface – is it cement, asphalt or grass? While humans wear heavy-soled running shoes for protection, your pup has pads. Cement can abrade pads that aren’t conditioned properly, so begin by jogging short distances. If the pads become sore, a coating and protection product called Tough Foot is available from most pet stores.

Perspiration cools us down, but a dog can’t perspire: He can only pant heavily to achieve the same result. Always keep water available to cool your dog down. Even if you aren’t thirsty, offer water to your pet.

Running in the heat of the day isn’t good for man or beast, so limit your runs to early mornings or evenings. Dogs are susceptible to heat stroke, and the results can be fatal. Don’t overexert your pet.

Dogs should be kept on a leash while jogging, not only because it’s the law, but because using a leash is safe and responsible. Free-roaming dogs can get into confrontations with other dogs and, worse, may be hit by a car if they stray too far.

Jogging with your dog can be enjoyable, if you’ll just use some “horse” sense.

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