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Pet Connection Q & A: Bicycling with dog demands caution

Published: Tuesday, Jul. 10, 2012 - 12:00 am | Page 7D

Is it safe to run a dog with a bike? My dog loves it, but we got a lecture about it from a neighbor who thinks it's dangerous. What do you think?

Running with bikes is not for every dog – in fact, it's not for most dogs. But for those with serious exercise requirements, it can be a perfect fit.

Letting your dog run alongside a bike is a great way to help him burn off a day's pent-up energy without wearing yourself completely out in the process.

If you choose to bike with your dog, make sure your dog is in good health (check in with your veterinarian), and start slowly (both in terms of speed and distance) to make sure this activity suits him. Don't even try it if he's a puller or doesn't respond to basic commands, including "sit," "leave it" and "heel." Stay on trails if you can and off busy streets if streets are your only choice.

Keep your dog at a trot, not a run, and watch for signs of overheating. Never go out in the hottest part of the day, carry water to offer frequently and walk your bike and your dog for a cool-down before calling it a day.

Finally, invest in a bicycle attachment that holds your dog's leash – carrying the leash in your hand while biking is a recipe for a wreck, even if you have a well-behaved pup. After all, a darting squirrel or a rabbit is more temptation than even most good dogs can take.

The buzz

Many seniors want pets to move with them

• The Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Sun-Sentinel reports that companies offering housing for seniors are increasingly accepting pets because of business pressures. Some 40 percent of people researching a nursing home or assisted-living situation ask about pet policies at first contact. Science supporting the value of pets staying with their owners no doubt also is having an influence; seniors with pets are typically more active and more social.

• Wal-Mart and Sam's Club have joined Target in aggressively pursuing the market for animal medication. The latest salvo comes with the introduction of generic heartworm preventives. Heartworm disease, which is transmitted by mosquitoes, is present in all states, and once established in a dog is difficult to eradicate safely. Preventive medicine has long been considered the better option, and preventive medications have until relatively recently been available through veterinarians only.

Gina Spadafori

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