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Running is a great way to get back into shape especially from a little overindulging during the holidays.  

One way to stay motivated is hooking up with a companion that needs the work as much as you do.  

While running with friends is certainly a good idea, I’m thinking about the four legged variety, as in dog.  

To help with your regular fitness routine, having a furry friend, always reliable no matter the weather is a special privilege.

This kind of friend will be so excited to get started its enthusiasm can’t help but rub off on you.  There are other benefits to running with your pooch including security, as opposed to running alone.

To make running more comfortable during the colder months, suitable gear is essential for both you and your pet.  

In a recent interview, veterinarian Dr. Katherine Kramer offered tips on how to keep your dog warm and safe during the winter.

“Common sense dictates not spending too much time out in subfreezing weather,” Dr. Kramer began. “If you have a smaller dog or a dog with a light coat then having them wear a jacket is indicated. All dogs should also wear boots.” Most dogs do not like wearing boots but they can be helpful to protect paws from rough snow or ice. They also have a tendency to fall off, especially if your dog loves running, so you should look into The Best Dog Boots That Stay On. If not using boots make sure to clean paws after running through salt since this can cause problems if ingested by your dog.

Running with reflective gear will help you to be seen by vehicles and cyclists.

Dr. Kramer says, “Use reflective gear during the winter, both on yourself and your dog. Even during the day visibility can be reduced if it’s raining or snowing.  Running harnesses are usually the best to keep your dog safely attached to you and avoid neck injuries.”

When it comes to injuries, dogs are susceptible too and should be looked at right away.

“Just like you, your dog can get injured by slipping on slick surfaces,” she said, adding, “Dogs can experience similar muscle sprains that humans can without complaining or actively limping.”

She continues “If for some reason your dog can’t keep up or is reluctant to go as far as they usually do then it is best to consult a veterinarian that has extra training in mobility, either a veterinary sports medicine specialist or a veterinarian who has been trained in acupuncture, chiropractic therapy or canine rehabilitation. All of the things that you would do for yourself after a sports injury are available for athletic dogs to manage their pain and speed their recovery.”

Dr. Kramer offered a list of breeds that would make a good running companion, as suggested by the American Kennel Club and there are many.

These fall into that category:  Weimaraner, Dalmatian, Vizsla, German Short-haired Pointer, Rhodesian Ridgeback, English Springer Spaniel, Doberman Pinscher, American Foxhound, Saluki, and Belgian Malinois.

There are lots of other breeds that are great running companions as well, such as Golden and Labrador Retrievers, American Bulldogs or Pit Bulls, Border Collies, Australians Shepherds and Siberian Huskies. Brachycephalic breeds (such as French & English Bulldogs, Boston Terriers) are great companions but not recommended as running companions due (to) their breathing issues.”

I asked about gifting a dog during the holiday season.  Dr. Kramer replied emphatically, “NEVER gift a dog!

Bringing a dog into your life is a serious commitment of (if you’re lucky) 14-16 years. Also, dogs that make great running companions usually require LOTS of exercise (at least for the first 8-10 years) so be prepared!!”

Keeping your dog and yourself in protective gear during the winter season is the key to preventing injury and having a healthy lifelong running journey!!

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