Running is a great form of exercise and a good way for your dog to expend energy whilst you bond. Running every single day, however, can pose risks to even the healthiest dog.
The potential risks of running your dog every day vary widely and include factors such as:
- Environmental conditions
- Your dogs breed
- Your dog’s current health status
- Your dog’s age
- Your dog’s level of conditioning
Fortunately you can prevent these risks from having a negative effect of your dog’s health by being observant of environmental conditions, staying on top of your dog’s health, and knowing how to read your dog’s body language.
Some ideas on how you can do this are posted below.
What are the risks of running your dog every day?
One of the most significant risk factors when running with your dog is environmental conditions.
Running daily with your dog in the summer risks:
- Overheating/sunstroke/heat exhaustion
- Blistered paw pads
- Burns on paw pads
- Death in extreme cases
Running daily with your dog in the fall and winter months poses injury risks including:
- Piles of decaying leaves create slippery patches of ground
- Icy paths and roads cause a falling hazard
- De-icing chemicals stick to your dog’s paw pads, and your dog may ingest them when licking their paws
Seasonal impacts upon air quality is another consideration you should track if running with your dog regularly.
- Spring, summer, and fall send pollen levels skyrocketing and can impact respiration
- Summer humidity levels can also make respiration difficult
- Pollution and smog can also impact respiration (particularly for asthma patients!)
You can avoid most environmental risks by only venturing out at dawn or night when temperatures are cooler + finding an alternate activity during problematic months.
Which dog breeds should avoid running everyday?
Not all dogs have been selectively bred for their physical attributes.
Humans bred some species for non-physical purposes such as companionship. These dogs tend to lack the physiological assets necessary for athleticism. If your dog falls into this category, running every day risks discomfort and injury.
Examples of dogs that are not well-suited to running include brachycephalic dogs and those that are short in stature.
Brachycephalic dogs (dogs with a short muzzle or a “flat face”) have flatter or undersized breathing passages that make it more difficult to breathe freely, particularly with increased respiratory rates and warm environments. These dogs should never take part in any extensive rigorous exercise.
Shorter stature dogs like Dachshunds also experience strain on their long, low bodies. Running adds to the strain on the spine and back and increases the chance of injury.
If you plan to make your dog a running partner, choose a breed that is well suited to running!
Breeds that do make good running partners include:
- Australian cattle dog
- Labrador retriever
- German shorthaired pointer
- Siberian husky (although warm and humid areas are not ideal for this breed)
- Alaskan malamute (also be wary when running in warm environments)
- German shepherd
- Border collie
- Hungarian vizsla
- Rhodesian ridgeback
Running with a dog that has a medical condition
Running every day with a dog that has a medical condition is always a risk. Be wary of your dog’s health and keep up with regular veterinary visits to catch any illness or injury early.
The best way to determine whether your dog has a medical condition that precludes them from strenuous activity is to talk with your veterinarian. At each annual checkup, discuss your exercise routine with your vet and ask for their feedback.
Medical conditions that make running a risky activity for dogs include:
- Heart disease
- Pulmonary disease
- Muscular disease
- Heartworm disease
- Myasthenia gravis
- Neurological disease
- Respiratory disease/illness
- Collapsed trachea
- Viral illness
- Kidney disease
- Laryngeal paralysis
- Degenerative joint disease
- Dogs with joint repair surgeries
It is also helpful to learn to read your dog’s body language so that you can decipher when something is out of the ordinary, as dogs often hide symptoms of pain and injury.
Most pet owners will know when their dog has one of the above conditions and will not continue to (or start to) run with their dog. If your dog is your regular running partner and begins to show symptoms of illness, stop running them until you receive an “all clear” from your vet.
Symptoms that may indicate that your dog has a condition that is incompatible with running include:
- Changes in respiration rates
- Unsteady gait
- Reluctance to move
- Tail tucking
- Whining or growling when a painful part of the body is palpated
- Coughing or gagging noises
- Discharge from the eyes, nose, or mouth
*Note – these symptoms can be associated with a range of concerns that may be temporary or chronic. You must cease all running until you can schedule a veterinary appointment for your dog to get to the cause of their symptoms.
Running with a puppy every day is harmful to their health
Every day running puts stress on a puppy’s immature joints, stresses under-developed muscles (for example, the cardiovascular system) and risks injury to their growth plates that have not yet filled.
Over-exercising your puppy can contribute to problems injure developing bones and joints and cause malformation, pain, and lameness. Injuring immature growth plates can cause similar problems and stop your puppy’s normal growth altogether!
Expert veterinarians recommend waiting until a puppy is at least 12 months old before making running a regular pastime.
If you have a puppy, running every day poses serious risks to their lifelong health. Stick with age-appropriate exercise recommended by your veterinarian.
Your dog’s conditioning impacts how frequently you can run together
Over-exercising is another risk of running with your dog every day.
Like us, our dogs get fatigued – especially if we do not condition them for strenuous physical activity, or they are a senior dog.
Continual over-exertion makes your dog more prone to injury, and it reduces their enthusiasm for strenuous exercise in the future.
You can prevent over-exerting your dog by learning to read their body language. Signs that may indicate that your dog has gave their all for the day include:
- Slowing down to a walk and refusing to run
- Low energy levels
- Potty accidents in the house
- Difficulty breathing
- Muscle trembling, cramping, or instability
- Excessive panting
- Difficulty standing up
Running gives your dog the chance to exercise, release excess energy, and bond with you. Running every day, however, can begin to cause problems for your dog if
- weather conditions are unsuitable
- your dog is a brachycephalic breed
- your dog has a pre-existing medical condition
- your dog is a young puppy
- if your exercise routine is too strenuous
If you have concerns about the impact of your running routine on your dog, please talk to your veterinarian!