Your pet must be medically fit to travel. If you are uncertain of your pet’s health, then a veterinary examination is recommended. At this time you can discuss with your veterinarian any specific medical issues or threats that may exist in the area that you are travelling in. For example paralysis tick, cane toads, heartworm and so on. Vaccinations must also be current.
Pets that are very anxious or suffer from car sickness may require medication. This can only be supplied by your veterinarian after a complete physical examination.
Also, it is advisable to compile a list of veterinarians both en route and at your destination in the event of an emergency.
As a general rule, young dogs and very old dogs don’t have the physical characteristics to support high-impact exercise such as running. Puppies have bones and muscles that are still maturing, so it’s important to wait until they are fully grown (at least one year old) before you start running with them, especially if it is for long-distance running. If you have a dog that is starting to feel their age, eg. short on puff, stiff after a run, it’s best to consult your vet before beginning (or continuing) a running program. The age that this happens can vary widely between breeds and individuals.
Breed is probably the biggest predictor of whether your dog is a suitable running partner. Hunting and herding breeds like German Short-haired pointers, Jack Russells, Border Collies and Kelpies tend to suit long distances (over 10km), while Greyhounds, Pitbulls and Golden Retrievers suit middle distances (less than 10km). Dogs typically not suited to running include very large dogs (e.g. Great Danes), very small dogs (e.g. Chihuahuas) or dogs that have a tendency to overheat, such as pugs and bulldogs.
Running is a high-impact activity that requires your dog to be in moderately good health. For dogs carrying extra kilos, it’s a good idea to start a weight loss program before you introduce them to regular running. If your dog has a medical history of hip dysplasia or arthritis, running may actually worsen the condition, so it’s best to seek advice from your veterinary team before you start.
There will be some dogs who, despite being the ideal breed, age and health, do not like running. They may have a curious temperament that makes them easily distracted by every bush and shrub or they may simply refuse to run after a certain distance. If after a few weeks of perseverance you’re not making headway, you are probably best sticking to walking or alternative exercise options.