March 15, 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