How to Build Muscle in a Dog

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In order to build muscle and athleticism in dogs, the dog needs to be built up in the same way as a human. Discover why a pet owner should avoid taking young dogs on long runs with help from a veterinarian in this free video on dog health and muscle.

Part of the Video Series: Dog Health
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Video Transcript

Hi, I'm Doctor McDonald and today we're talking about dog care. I'm a veterinarian in Southern California, McDonald Animal Hospital. One of the things that people often ask me about and I watch them exercising their animals on the beach and sometimes people don't realize an animal is much like we are and they just can't all of a sudden go out and run a marathon. They need to be built up slowly. So when you first get your puppy you're not going to want to take him for four hours out on the beach when they're young like that because their bones are still growing and you need to build him up slowly. And so it's probably a good idea to take a calendar and set up a regular regime that'll work with your schedule. So if you can take him out three times a week it'll be once around the block when they're puppies and then twice around he block when they get a little older, until you can actually take them out to the beach. One other thing that's very important about puppies is that you don't want to take them to where other dogs are frequenting until they have a full series of vaccinations, so that would be very important thing to talk to your veterinarian. But again it's important, sometimes people just think that an animal is like a machine and they can just take them for a run behind their bicycle and run them all day, and they can get overheated, they can get sore, they can get their pads all torn off if we're not very careful about that. And so even if your animal has had an injury it's important to bring them back slowly and you take a period of a month or six weeks to slowly, every day just do a little bit more. One other thing if it's an injury and you're trying to build muscles back in your dog it's important to do what we call range of motion. Now the range of motion exercises is just exactly that, you slowly rotate the arm or their leg around and so that the joints are being used as they would if they were walking. Sometimes if an animal is recovering it could be sore and so you want to do these slowly and build them up slowly over time. The body is much like our body, it responds well to the proper kind of exercise which means you slowly start the process, work it up to where you want it to be and if your animal's going to be in some kind of a marathon run with you you want to be sure that they're able to go the whole distance. One other thing, when an animal is being run, if you're running with your dog it's important to bring water along and it's usually a good idea to go jogging early in the morning or late in the afternoon with them. Another thing that people sometimes don't realize, if they have a dark colored dog, let's say a black lab, they absorb the heat a lot quicker than a white lab would or a yellow lab. And so that's important consideration to take in. Animals, dogs especially, don't sweat, and so the way they cool off is by panting. And again, if it's a very hot day, a black lab in the sun, you may have a heat prostration.


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