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Answers from vets about your dog:

How Many Miles Can You Run With Your Dog?

Posted December 18, 2014 in Dog Checkups & Preventive Care

Dr. Justine Lee is a board-certified emergency critical care veterinary specialist, and is the CEO of VetGirl. For more from Dr. Lee, find her on Facebook!

As an avid sports fan, I love to attend sporting events. A few years ago, I attended my first marathon up in Duluth, MN (Grandma’s marathon). At that marathon, I learned two important lessons. One, I never want to run a marathon - try watching people cross the finish line crying, hobbling, carrying or supporting each other, limping, hobbling, and sobbing. Just wasn’t a good motivator, although I did cheer them on mightily for finishing! Second, I learned that all kinds of people can finish marathons. I assumed I would see all skinny, thin-legged, boney marathon runners, but was pleasantly surprised to see all heights, weights, and body types crossing the line.

Unfortunately, dogs are not the same way.  Next week, I’ll talk about pet dangers of running with your four-legged friend. In the meantime, find out if your breed of dog is even meant to run!

I’m always happy to see all different types of dogs running along the Mississippi, but it’s true that some dogs were just not bred to run. These breeds include Boston Terriers, Pekingese dogs, Pugs, French Bulldogs, and English Bulldogs. Likewise, if you have a really lazy dog and can’t lift a 100 lb. dog into your car, it’s probably best not to go more than a mile; this is especially true if you have a big dog such as a Doggie de Bordeaux, Mastiff, or Newfoundland. 

Next, look at the muscling of the dog. If your dog is excessively muscled, he probably prefers to sprint. These types of dogs (like Greyhounds, Pit bulls, and Boxers) have such dense muscle mass that they can overheat easily. In general, if your dog’s legs are shorter than his body height, he’s probably not a great runner. Finally, if your dog has a smooshed face, small nostrils, pants a lot even at rest, or snores louder than your husband, he’s also probably not a natural born runner – he’d be okay to run or jog short distances only. Otherwise, check with your vet, or take it very, very slow when acclimating your dog to your torturous hobbies.

My pit bull likes to run for the first 2 miles. He can stay with me for 6

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Justine has more than 18 years of experience in the veterinary industry and is a board-certified emergency critical care veterinary specialist and toxicologist as well as the CEO and founder of Vetgirl. She is also a founding member of IDEXX’s Pet Health Network team.