March 2014

When is it safe to run with your dog?

Lots of people ask us about running with their dogs. There’s plenty written about running with dogs. Are the people writing well informed? Not so much.

The basic fact is that dogs (and children) should not be subjected to repetitive impact exercise until their growth plates in their bones are closed, in order to prevent injury to bones and joints.

How much is too much?

How do you know when a dog’s growth plates have closed? This can occur at any time between 9 months to 20 months or even longer.

While checking out what’s written online about this, we found descriptions of how to look at your dog’s joints and decided if they are “knobby” or smooth, and you could decide on this basis. Maybe an experienced medical professional could make a sound guess based on many, many dogs — but this is not a safe evaluation to count on for caretakers of dogs. In fact, those “knobby” joints might not be an immature dog, but some very serious medical condition.

You can check with your dog’s breeder about when his family matures. Sometimes males mature later than females. Breeders know their dogs very well and will be thankful that you asked.

Spaying and neutering can slow closure of growth plates.

The simple, foolproof way to know: one X-ray view of one joint should give you a clear picture of where your dog is in this process. No reason to wonder or assume that he’s done growing and then find out you started competition or heavy work too soon. This is not damage that can be un-done. In this area, this X-ray costs about $95.00, and we think it would be money well spent.

Beth Taylor LMT CVMRT
The Puddle

Slip-proof your floors ~ prevent injury to your dog

A slip or fall for an elderly or unstable dog could be a life-altering event. Even youngsters can injure themselves on slippery uncarpeted surfaces.

Many people who live with dogs prefer uncarpeted floors because they are easier to keep clean – but they can be dangerous. We talk to a lot of people who really haven’t considered the consequences of an unstable dog falling on the stairs or spinning out in the hallway – young or old.

When their rear ends begin to get weak, dogs start having trouble on stairs, but if they have good footing they can often continue to go up and down stairs.

Dogs are sometimes segregated from the rest of the family in an attempt to protect them, in an area where they will not fall – but where they are lonely and sad.

Area rugs can be too short, heavy, and expensive. In some cases, they too can slip without an effective non-skid backing. Runners by the foot aren’t all that expensive but they curl up and look very used after one winter season. Rubber backed entry mats work well, but they are heavy and not easy to clean (and they get very, very dirty).

Our absolute favorite non-slip device for elderly dogs, dogs recovering from surgery, or dogs with injuries – YOGA MATS! We first saw yoga mats used for this purpose at a veterinary rehab clinic where they had been in place for well over a year with no signs of wear.

We tried them here at The Puddle and they’re perfect!  You can purchase a 100 foot roll at They are very light, and easy to cut: we bought the thick version and really like the cushiony feel. We have the 2-foot width, but there is also a 3-foot width. Dogs are now much steadier on our cement floor, especially in the pool area, and are obviously more comfortable.

100 feet sounds like a lot until you really take a look at the space that needs to be made safe for your dog. Multiple regular size mats may be used, but we did not find such good prices for the short lengths — and there would then be seams to trip over.