Dr. Dolittler

Web full of misinformation about exercise for puppies

 

khulyp@bellsouth.net

Q. Our 6-month-old Labrador retriever puppy has so much energy I’ve started taking him to doggie day care so he can play with other dogs, but even that’s not enough to tire him out. I’m thinking about taking him along on my runs, but my dog trainer says it’s a bad idea. She says that too much exercise early on can lead to joint problems. Is that true?

Though it seems everyone from Dr. Mother-in-Law to Dr. Google has an opinion, the truth is that veterinary medicine has no definitive answers on what we call “precocious exercise.”

There has been lots of research on the subject in thoroughbred racehorses, but only a couple of studies involving dogs. One found that any exercise –– even playing with other dogs –– was a risk factor for osteochondritis dissecans, a disease of the joints that afflicts young, growing dogs. The other found that some types of exercise, such as stick and ball chasing, were risk factors for hip dysplasia and elbow arthrosis in Labs.

These two studies are probably how the Internet got populated with all sorts of “no” recommendations for pups: No running on hard surfaces, no jumping or twisting exercises, no stick or ball chasing, no more than 10 minutes of exercise at a stretch, and no longer than a half mile walk or run.

But these restrictions don’t seem reasonable for the average high-energy puppy. After all, wolf pups run with their packs for miles at a stretch with no orthopedic repercussions. And how else are pups to expend all their energy without taking it out on your sofa?

That’s why most veterinarians suggest you apply common sense, allowing pups to exercise as much as they want to but delaying any serious athletic training until after the growth plates have closed.

Dr. Patty Khuly has a veterinary practice in South Miami. Her website is drpattykuhly.com. Send questions to khulyp@bellsouth.net, or Dr. Dolittler, Tropical Life, The Miami Herald, 3511 NW 91st Ave., Doral, FL 33172.

Read more Pets stories from the Miami Herald

  • Talking Dog: Training and treats can stop leash pulling

    Question: I have taught my dog Brutus to walk on a leash without pulling, which he does perfectly, but only on the way home from the park where he gets to run every day. On the way to the park, he pulls so hard that he retches, and I can hardly control him. I've put a harness on him so he doesn't choke himself, but it hasn't helped. -Brent

  • Animal Island: Dog doesn't get along with other canines

    Q: My 5-year-old Maltipoo is sweet and lovable, but when she sees another dog, she starts growling and whining. She barks at all breeds, from Yorkies to Great Danes. I would appreciate your advice on what to do when this happens and why she acts this way.

  • Pet Vet: Dealing with an itchy problem

    Skin problems, particularly itchy skin problems, can be quite frustrating to deal with, both as a caretaker trying to help our companion, and as a veterinarian with the same goal.

Miami Herald

Join the
Discussion

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category