COLUMN: Make your dog your running buddy

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We’re two weeks into January, and if scientific research is anything to go by, 88 per cent of us will have broken our new year’s resolutions already. That’s according to academics at Bristol University, anyway!

This year I’ve vowed to not go on Facebook so much, which so far is going well! But for most people, a vow to get fitter in the new year is a popular choice. And what better way to get fitter than to take up running?

If you’re a dog-owner, buddying up for a run with your dog can be a good thing for both of you. Not only do you get fitter, but your dog gets extra exercise and more time with you too - it’s a win-win situation!

It goes without saying, but use your common sense before you decide to take your dog out for a run. Some breeds of dogs might struggle as they are more prone to heatstroke - for example, dogs with short snouts, fatter or heavily muscles dogs and long-haired breeds, as well as very old and very young dogs.

Dogs with certain health conditions may not be able to run either, so please make sure your dog is checked by a vet before taking them running with you.

If you do start running with your dog, it is important that you are aware of the signs of heatstroke in your dog and be prepared to stop running if needed. Take water for your dog round with you and give them regular water breaks, and toilet breaks if needed! Keep an eye on their paws and if they start to look sore then stop.

Signs of heatstroke in dogs includes panting heavily, excessive drooling, appearing lethargic, drowsy and uncoordinated, collapse and vomiting. Heatstroke can be fatal, so if your dog is showing signs, then take them to a shaded place and call a vet immediately.

Take it slowly at first by going on brisk walks first and building up to short runs, and consider investing in a strong, comfortable harness with light reflective stitching, which will help keep your dog safe and comfortable while running.

Once you’ve start getting comfortable with running, why not take a look into entering a race for charity? The RSPCA has a number of allocated places at the London Marathon, Great North Run and Brighton Marathon which you could sign up to. You won’t be able to run with your dog at these events, but you’ll be raising money for lots of animals in need. To find out more, visit www.rspca.org.uk/getinvolved/fundraise/running.

Good luck!