You wish you could spend every day playing fetch and hiking with your dog, but weekday obligations get in the way. Between work, family, and everything else life throws at you, finding time to exercise your dog can seem impossible. While you’re at work Monday through Friday, your dog is lounging around the house. You both live for the weekends when it’s finally time to have some fun.
If this sounds like you, your pup is a weekend warrior. You spend your days off work doing a variety of activities like running, hiking, and playing with your dog until you’re both happily exhausted. It seems like a good way to make up for the weekday lull, but infrequent strenuous exercise puts your dog’s joint health at risk. Without proper conditioning, your dog’s body isn’t prepared for the extra weekend activity. Keep them healthy and your weekends happy with these tips for weekend warrior joint care.
#1 – Keep Up With Conditioning
Going on a long run or hitting the agility course every day is an unrealistic goal for a busy dog owner. But adding a few minutes of intense activity one or two times a week is a minimal commitment. It doesn’t have to take long, and you don’t need to travel far to make it happen. Take 10 minutes before your morning shower or after dinner to run your dog through a few exercises. Go outside and sprint up and down the sidewalk. Throw a ball up a flight of carpeted stairs and let your dog chase after it. Regularly scheduled short bursts of activity will help keep your dog’s muscles primed for weekend workouts. If you don’t have time to do it yourself, hire someone to do it for you.
#2 – Start With a Warm Up
Think about your dog like he’s a human athlete. An Olympic sprinter doesn’t walk up to the track and take off at a record-breaking pace. First they stretch and run a few slow laps. It’s called a warm up, and it’s essential when it comes to maintaining joint health for both people and their pups. Sports Medicine Information advises,
“The warm-up should gently prepare the body for exercises by gradually increasing the heart rate and circulation; this will loosen the joints and increase blood flow to the muscles. Stretching the muscles prepares them for physical activity and prevents injuries.”
Before throwing the ball as far as you can and watching your dog explode into a full-speed sprint, lead him through a few minutes of warm up activities. Let him trot around the park or go on a slow jog. Let his muscles and joints get used to moving around after a week spent on the couch. Once they’re warmed up, game on.
#3 – Maintain a Healthy Weight
A few extra pounds around your dog’s belly will put additional strain on their joints. Their skeletal system is only built to support so much weight, and obesity is one of the main causes of early arthritis in dogs. According to PetMD, over 50% of the nation’s dogs are overweight. As that weight puts pressure on a dog’s joints, the cartilage that acts as cushioning between bones gradually wears away. It causes painful inflammation and can keep dogs out of the park and on the couch. For weekend warriors, running and jumping on joints weighed down by extra fat leads to increased risk of injury.
#4 – Visit the Vet Regularly
Every dog, whether they’re a weekend warrior or not, needs to see their vet on a regular basis. Yearly check-ups are important to keep your dog up-to-date with vaccines and to catch potential health problems early on. The issue is even more vital, however, when your dog has a heightened risk of injury—like with weekend warriors. Most dogs have a naturally high pain tolerance, and that attribute is made more complicated because they can’t tell you when something’s wrong. Never skip a routine vet visit, and schedule an appointment every time you suspect your pup played a little too hard.
#5 – Invest in Quality Joint Care Supplements
Many veterinarians recommend giving dogs as young as 12 months old daily joint supplements. Supplements made with glucosamine, MSM, and chondroitin actively reduce inflammation in the joints and strengthen cartilage. There are countless non-prescription options out there, but not every brand will be beneficial for your dog. Ask your vet to help you sort through the possibilities. You want a supplement formulated with high-quality ingredients that prioritizes health over profit. Most dog owners also see better results with supplements made from a mixture of active ingredients as opposed to one nutraceutical.
These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. The information on this website is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified healthcare professional.