Health and Nutrition
05 May 2017 08:40
Bike Riding: Health and Safety for Dogs
Taking your dog on a bike ride can be a great way to give her some quick exercise. However, the practice can be dangerous for both dog and owner, and it's definitely not for every dog. Here are some pointers:
- Keep both your hands completely free to steer the bike and operate the brakes. Wrap the leash around your waist or better yet, purchase equipment specially designed for biking with a dog. Generally, this equipment will attach to the bike itself and keep the dog positioned about two feet to the right of your sitting position.
- Maintain as steady a pace as possible. Ideally, your dog should be trotting (not walking because you will be unstable at slow speeds) and not running (you won't have adequate reaction time).
- Practice in a driveway or parking lot before taking your dog on a street. Start with short rides, and gradually increase the distance.
- During the practice session, teach your dog some simple commands that alert her to what she is to do (e.g., whoa to slow down, left to turn left, etc.)
- Be aware that pavement can traumatize dogs' footpads — again, start with short distances to allow the pads to toughen, and check the pads to be sure they are not becoming abraded.
- Excitable dogs that cannot resist chasing cats or other animals are poor candidates for bike exercise.
- Be careful in hot weather — long-haired breeds and brachycephalic breeds can easily become overheated.
- Take water for your dog.
- As your dog gets tired, she will become less alert and more inclined to cause an accident — be careful not to go too far. Remember, when you reach the farthest point from home, the ride is only half over.
Provided by Arlene Wong, Loving Pet Care
Reprinted from the Cummings School of Medicine at Tufts
By John Berg, DVM DACVS