WAGSTA Wellness Exercise Safety Guide
Before commencing regular exercise please read the following exercise safety tips. Apply these tips to make the most of your WAGSTA Wellness activity program.
1. Veterinary Check-up
WAGSTA recommends a veterinary health check prior to commencing your dog’s weight loss program. This is important to rule out any underlying conditions which may be contributing to your dog’s weight gain. If your dog has not recently visited their vet, now is the ideal time.
Your veterinarian will be able to provide your dog with a target weight and discuss any limiting factors with regards to exercise. If necessary they can prescribe supplements and medication to aid your dog’s mobility. (A vet check-up template can be found in your resource library).
2. Work within your dog’s limits
Pay close attention to your dog whilst exercising. Dog’s can easily over-exert themselves to keep pace with their owner. Excessive panting, salivation, weakness or collapse is cause for concern. Should your dog display any signs of distress whilst exercising stop and rest immediately. Provide water, shelter and seek veterinary attention.
3. Monitor for lameness
If your dog develops lameness during or after their activity session, we recommend seeking veterinary attention. Additional exercise may aggravate injury further.
4. Follow activity recommendations
Adhere to program guidelines and do not increase your dog’s activity beyond the daily activity recommendation. Rapid increases in activity levels and unrestricted off-leash play often result in injury to overweight dogs.
4. Prevent overheating
Beware of the risk of heat stroke. In hot climates always exercise your dog during the cooler periods of the day. Avoid activity in excessively hot or humid conditions.
5. Avoid dehydration
Please ensure drinking water is available when exercising your dog. Locate watering points along your route or carry drinking water with you.
6. Avoid chilling
In cooler climates beware of the risk of chilling. This is especially important for thin coated and smaller breeds. Provide a coat and consider booties. Keep your dog dry and avoid walking during weather extremes.
7. Do not feed before exercise
Exercise your dog on an empty stomach. This is especially important for deep-chested large breeds who are prone to bloat (e.g. Great Dane, Rottweilers, Labradors, Standard Poodles, and Doberman.)
8. Select suitable terrain
When starting out choose flat, even, soft surfaces to walk your dog on. Grass and dirt tracks are ideal. Avoid rocky, uneven surfaces and hot tarmac/ concrete. (Place the back of your hand against the pathway to check if it too hot for your dog’s paws.)
9. Pay attention to paws
Ensure your dog’s nails are kept trimmed. Long nails will cause discomfort and are prone to tearing. Regularly check paws and foot pads for grass seeds, ice/mud balls and for signs of irritation caused by road salt, abrasive or hot surfaces.
10. Protect joints and ligaments
Avoid unnecessary stress on your dog’s joints. Lower your dog from the car (or use a ramp). Do not encourage your dog to jump down from a height or to jump for sticks and balls. Overweight dogs are prone to joint and ligament injury from these types of activities.
11. Be visible
Ensure you are visible to passing motorists and bicycle riders. If exercising in low light conditions invest in some High–Viz wear for both yourself and your dog.
12. Keep your dog adequately restrained
For safety reasons always keep your dog on their leash when near roads, wildlife or farm animals. Employ good etiquette- refrain your dog from running up to other dogs and walkers.
13. Provide identification
Make sure your dog is micro-chipped with their registration details up to date. Also provide a collar tag with phone number to quickly reunite your dog in the event of getting lost.
Off-Leash Activity for Activity Plan 2 and 3 Participants
For dogs enrolled in our Explorer and Adventurer activity plans, we will be introducing the option of off-leash exercise to your dog’s daily activity plan.
When exercising off-leash, it is important to strike a balance in your dog’s activity level. Playing fetch, chasing balls and exuberant group play sessions can soon lead to over exertion of overweight dogs and potentially cause injury. Work within your dog’s limits and monitor your dog closely for signs of fatigue and overheating.
When off-leash you will also need to ensure your dog doesn’t slacken off their pace too much . Encourage your dog to keep moving so they get as much exercise as during their on-leash active walk.
Exercise vs Diet
To ensure safe, sustainable weight management, dog weight loss should be achieved mainly through dietary control (90% calorie restriction and 10% exercise).
Overweight dogs are prone to joint injuries, overheating and respiratory distress whilst exercising, especially during high impact activities such as jumping and running. For this reason, WAGSTA does not provide a boot-camp style exercise program.
Your weekly activity plan is designed with safety in mind. For best results build your dog’s activity level gradually, whilst committing to your dog’s portion plan.