Springtime Conditioning For Active Dogs

By Dr. Doug Pernikoff, DVM

Wow! Even ole’ fellas like me feel invigorated with the warm, bright days of Spring. I often jump out in the garage to clean out junk, and begin working on my garden. Yikes, by evening, I can hardly stand up without wrenching in pain.

Why am I sharing such personal information? Well, truth be told, the very same issues can impose on the well-being of your pets. They too, are coming out of relative inactivity of the recent winter months, and are excited to get out, run, jump and frolic around the yard and woodlands. They too, can be vulnerable to muscle and joint pain. Of course, breed, age and conformation can certainly play a role.

Again, as we manage ourselves, so should we manage our pets. If your dog is older, overweight, or has a history of intermittent or chronic lameness, you need to visit your veterinarian and discuss a best plan to introduce Spring time activities and exercise. Be sure that if needed, your pet is provided appropriate medications to assist in pain management. There are medicines that provide glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate, alone or in combination. There are anti-inflammatory medicants, or others that attack pain centers more specifically. Don’t play veterinarian, because some of these meds can cause upset tummies, or impact kidney function. Let your doctor determine the best protocol for your pet’s unique needs. The other side of the argument is that covering pain or discomfort too effectively, can also threaten the well-being of your pet. If they feel too comfortable and pain free, they may try to play and move too much, and subsequently, they can hurt themselves. Obviously, whatever the pathology that exists in the body, at the spine, the hips, the limbs or wherever, be sure that these medications typically DO NOT provide 100% resolve. So, masking the symptoms and over activity will likely cause a flare-up.

Start exercise slowly with controlled walks and short periods of play. If overweight from winter time inactivity and malaise, then be sure to institute a proper diet program. Gradually work up to more active events over several weeks and you will likely have a healthy pet, able to move, jump, run or swim without issue. If you do see any form of lameness or discomfort in your pet, be sure to stop all activities and get to your veterinarian for an exam- PRONTO!!!

Have a wonderful, safe Spring time with your beloved critters.

Fondly, Dr. Doug Pernikoff
Clarkson-Wilson Veterinary Clinic
Vet Pet Rescue