Get outside every day in January for National Walk Your Pet Month
There is a reason that January, the coldest month of the year for those of us in the North, was designated National Walk Your Pet Month! It serves as a reminder that getting yourself and your pet outside every day is super important for your overall health and well-being.
The following tips from the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) can help you design a safe walking program for your dog…or even for your cat. (Yes, it is possible to train a cat to accept a harness and go for walks!)
- Consult your veterinarian before starting any new exercise program with your pet. You need to make sure your pet is healthy enough for the exercise you plan.
- Train your dog to behave on a leash, and seek help to address any behavioral problems.
- Begin with short, frequent walks, and take frequent rests as needed.
- If your pet seems to just want to go back home, try driving to a nearby park or less familiar area for your walks.
- Remember that walks are also a means for your dog to enjoy his/her environment; allow your dog to take “sniff breaks” within reason.
- Build gradually to one or more 15 minutes periods of brisk walking, then allow for cool-down time and recovery.
- Avoid walks during the coldest parts of the day during cold weather, based on your pet’s cold tolerance. Learn to recognize signs of frostbite and hypothermia so you can address any problems that occur.
- Walk on safe footing to avoid slips, falls or injuries.
- Avoid deep sand or similar footing because it can cause fatigue and injuries.
- If your pet shows signs of lameness, difficulty breathing, or seems to tire quickly, consult your veterinarian.
- Obey leash laws, and always clean up after your dog.
Walking is healthy for you and your dog. Not only is it physical activity, but it’s mental stimulation for your dog to smell, see and hear beyond the limits of your yard. If you have any questions about the appropriate level of physical activity for your pet, contact us today.