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Is your dog a weekend warrior? – If so help prevent serious injury with these handy tips:

You wake up on Saturday morning smiling because it’s the weekend at last. After a very busy working week there is nothing that you would rather do more than pack your pup into the car, venture out into nature, and embark on a 10-mile hike over the beautiful countryside. On Sunday you decide to take a nice morning run together before going out in the afternoon to the dog park to play a serious game of fetch.

Then Monday comes round and your 9 to 5 kicks in and you’re lucky if you can squeeze in a short daily walk with your dog on the weekdays. Does this sound like you? If so you could be subjecting your dog to what we call “weekend warrior syndrome” which could seriously harm your dogs health.

Weekend warrior is the term used to describe pups who do little physical activity during their parents’ busy work week, and then go hard on the weekends with intense and strenuous physical activity. The problem with this is that when dogs are exercised so inconsistently, their bodies are not conditioned to handle the demands of intense activity on your days off (even though they are usually more than happy to try). The result is sore and achy joints, or even worse, serious injury.

Exceeding our dogs’ fitness levels can cause problems including:

• Heat exhaustion

• Hypoglycaemic (low blood sugar) collapse

• Muscle soreness, strains and tears

• Overuse injuries and acute arthritic flare-ups

• Increased risk of serious ligament and tendon injuries

So how do we avoid making weekend warriors out of our faithful friends? There are some simple rules to follow to keep them safe.


Commit to conditioning:

The best thing you can do for your dog though it may sound extremely obvious is avoid weekend warrior syndrome in the first place. This doesn't necessary have to be a huge commitment on your part either. By providing your dog with around 10 minutes of extra high intensity activity at least two times during the week such as going for a short run, will enable your dog to build and improve their overall strength and fitness. This type of conditioning will ensure your dogs body is conditioned to more intense activity allowing them to cope with the weekend fun.

Warm up:

Professional human athletes never skip a proper warm up. That’s because research has proven, repeatedly, that preparing your muscles for upcoming physical activity reduces the risk of physical injury. Most dog owners would admit that they fail to warm up their dog up before exercise. During the day many dogs are relatively inactive maybe getting up once or twice to drink from the water bowl waiting for their owners to return from work. During this time the dogs muscles are relatively cool reducing there ability to stretch and work effectively. Time and time again I see owners allowing there dogs jump in and out of the car and immediately start a game of fetch or run around when they reach there destination. By popping your dog on the lead for 5 to 10 minutes at the start of the walk will allow the dogs heart rate to increase slowly, increasing circulation warming up the muscles making them more pliable and therefore reducing the risk of injury.⁠⠀

Exercise smart:

Have you ever thought about the environment and how that can have an impact on your dogs joints? If its cold out it can cause muscles to tighten and joints to stiffen. Ways you can combat this is putting a rug on your dog if they don't have a sufficient coat to keep them warm and avoid letting them get wet. I always advise clients that if its too cold that you wouldn't yourself paddle in the river or lakes then it is too cold for your dog. Other considerations is the surface that you are walking your dog on. If you are going for a run do you need to do it on the pavement where the surface is hard and puts unnecessary pressure through the joints and tendons or would it not be better to go running on the grass where it is softer and will have less impact ?

Supplements:

Whether or not you are a fan of supplements you cant deny that there is a significant amount of scientific research out there proving that the right supplements containing the right ingredients at the right levels can have a positive impact on the health and integrity of your dogs joints. Now I'm not going to delve into supplements into too much detail in this post as that is a huge topic in itself and this blog would end up being far too long but providing a high-quality joint supplement that includes green lipped mussel oil is one of the best and easiest things you can do for weekend warrior joints. Green lipped mussel oil contains three kinds of omega-3 fatty acids unlike the more popular choice of fish oil which only has two. This extra fatty acid helps block and reduce the production of the enzymes that contribute to inflammation.


Stretch it out:

Doing some simple stretches both pre and post exercise will help to increase your dogs joint range of motion, muscle elasticity and therefore reduce the risk of injury. If you are unsure how to correctly stretch out your dogs limbs it is recommended that you contact your physiotherapist for advice.


Weight management:

This tip i can not stress enough. The majority of dogs in this country are unfortunately overweight and what is even more concerning is that many owners do not believe that a few extra pounds is a big deal. Excess weight even if that is just a few extra pounds puts strain on your dogs joints. this in turn wears away the cartilage. a loss of cartilage can not only be painful but can lead to the development of conditions such as arthritis.

These 6 simple shifts can make a huge difference when it comes to keeping your weekend warrior happy and their joints healthy. Plus, they will help you get proactive about preventing injury and slowing the progress of degenerative joint diseases like arthritis, which hugely affect your dog’s quality of life. So with these tips in mind, get out there and enjoy the weekend fun you both live for.


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