Welcome to 2015! I don’t know about you, but I’m excited to get started on my personal ‘New Year, New You’ push to work off all those holiday treats. It feels like we do this every year, but this year, I think I’m going to make it happen. How, you ask? One word: Rex.
This year, I’m enlisting the assistance of my dog, Rex. January is national Walk Your Pet Month and with that in mind, I will be out there getting my exercise while Rex gets his. Walking your dog (or hey, your cat too) can be a great source of exercise and bonding between you and your pet. There are a few things to keep in mind when walking your pet.
The most important thing about taking your pet for a walk is to ensure that your pet is securely leashed. Pennsylvania Dog Law requires that all dogs are leashed and under control. We suggest avoiding retractable leashes. Despite the apparent convenience of a retractable leash, if you are not paying careful and quick attention to the button, then these leashes can be dangerously ineffective at stopping a pet from running out in front of a car or running over to say ‘hello’ to an unknown pet. When your pet does dash off in those circumstances you could hurt your hands trying to push the brake mechanism, or even have your pet snap the cord (believe me, we’ve heard this one)! We tend to like harnesses. But regardless whether you choose a chest harness, neck collar, or facial halter it is absolutely essential that you have it fitted in a manner so that the pet will not be able to slip out of it. Loose restraints lead to a dangerous false sense of security.
The second thing to keep in mind is your pet’s need for protection from parasites and diseases. As soon as you walk out the door, you encounter possibilities for your pet to become host to a plethora of tiny pests and parasites. Fleas, ticks, and other external parasites can range from slightly annoying to difficult and expensive to treat. Even though preventatives are not 100% fool proof, you may all the more be playing roulette with the infectious disease agents that external parasites can carry if your pet is not on a monthly flea and tick preventative. In addition, your pet will be subjected to discomfort and trauma if they contract parasites and the diseases they can carry. An ounce of prevention is absolutely worth a pound of cure here, so make sure your pet is protected! Don’t forget the heartworm preventatives. One of their most important jobs (despite the obvious “heartworm” prevention) is the protection they give your pet from common intestinal worms. Finally, while talking about prevention, it almost goes without saying to ensure that your pet is up to date on vaccines before taking them out!
Lastly, keep the conditions of your walk in mind. What is the area like where you’ll be walking? Is there a possibility for sharp objects? What is the weather like? For shorter coat-length breeds, do you have a sweater or jacket to help keep the pet from getting too cold? How long will you be walking? Will your route be flat or will it have inclines? Answering all these questions will allow you to be prepared and for you to prepare your pet with the appropriate gear for the walk.
I don’t know about you, but I am looking forward to some quality time with my canine walking buddy! If your pet is up to date on vaccines, well-protected from pests and parasites, and prepared for the walk you have in mind, I don’t doubt that your pet is looking forward to it as well. Get out there and walk your pets this January and beyond!