A Labrador can run long distances, but watch for signs of exhaustion or overheating, such as excessive panting. IN addition to bringing water for yourself, bring water for your pets.

A Labrador can run long distances, but watch for signs of exhaustion or overheating, such as excessive panting. IN addition to bringing water for yourself, bring water for your pets.

Now that we have officially entered spring (though the weather doesn’t entirely reflect it), it is a good time to dust off that active wear and get out to enjoy nature with your pets. 

During the winter months, most of us are guilty of adding a couple of pounds to our frames — my dog and I included! Fortunately, springtime in Seattle is one of the most beautiful seasons. 

In addition to bonding with your pets, exercising is also a great way to lose those extra inches. The added activity can also help reduce the risk of obesity and diabetes in your furry companions, both of which are a growing epidemic in dogs and cats. Losing the extra weight can also help combat arthritis.


Working out

There are numerous ways to exercise with your pooch. You can play tag, run, walk or even climb stairs to sculpt your legs and help your pup burn off his breakfast. 

I incorporate dance into my workouts, and my dog has a great time watching me shimmy to upbeat music while I play keep away with a toy. 

Swimming with your dog also can be a great way to stay in shape. It is a low-impact workout that is beneficial to both people and dogs with arthritis. It strengthens the heart and improves endurance, as well. 

Please be aware of your pets’ limitations around water, however. Not all dogs enjoy swimming, so start slowly if you wish to begin water training. If you feel they may tire out quickly or will not be a strong swimmer, a lifejacket is a great way to keep them safe and afloat while they still have fun.

Hiking is also a gratifying callisthenic. Not only do you exert those leg muscles and strengthen your lungs, you also get to enjoy breathtaking views, which provide excellent photo opportunities for you and your tail-wagger. 

If you are going to be trekking over rocky terrain, a good idea is to purchase booties for your four-legged pal. Canine booties have rubber coating on the bottoms to protect their feet from the elements, help prevent paw pad injuries and help prevent foxtails from embedding in the flesh between their toes. 

Additionally, a new avocation that has been springing up around the country is called “doga.” These are yoga classes in which you can bring Fido. It’s great for the owner-pet bond since all or most of the yoga positions incorporate your dog. 


Take precautions

When running with your dog, be advised that short-legged pets or flat-faced breeds such as pugs are probably not your best marathon-training partners. They simply are not made to run long distances like a Labrador can. Instead, try shorter, interval walks with small spurts of sprinting. This can get their heart rate going while helping to boost their metabolism. 

When working out in perspiring weather, watch for signs of exhaustion or overheating. Dogs have the ability to sweat, but do so through their paw pads. Their main method of cooling down is panting. Dogs with compromised respiration such as bulldogs are at high risk of easily overheating because they cannot pant efficiently. 

Furthermore, dogs absorb and release heat through their feet, so in sweltering heat, take care to walk your dogs in the morning or evening, when the ground is algid since cement and asphalt trap heat during the day when the sun is scorching. 

Be sure to provide water whenever necessary. Pet stores now sell handy collapsible water bowls or bowls that attach to your water bottle, which are great for hiking or lengthy jaunts outside. 


For your feline friends

To stay active with your feline friends, provide your cat with a good cardio workout while at the same time strengthening your biceps. 

Simply tie a toy with a string to your dumbbells! If it’s in a playful mood, you cat will go crazy trying to catch the toy while you curl up and down, which will in turn help them battle the bulge.  

MEGAN L. FOUCH is the office manager at the Madison Park Veterinary Hospital (www.madisonparkvet.com). To comment on this story, write to MPTimes@nwlink.com.